If you start every day with that phrase, then you’re in the right place. Coffee is the world’s favorite drink to wake up with, and it’s become the center point of a modern culinary revolution. Today’s coffee shops have transformed a common cup of Joe into a meticulously measured art form. Lattes and cappuccinos are topped with beautiful foam creations, iced coffee is brewed for 24 hours before it’s ready, and hot brews are poured at specific temperatures for the “perfect flavor profile.”
In addition to being a bit intimidating, the coffee shop can also be a bit overpriced, but with a few basic lessons and a couple pieces of brewing equipment, you’ll be well on your way to transforming your 1st Lake kitchen into the best java joint in the neighborhood!
Coffee Beans & Roast Types
Coffee beans come in a variety of sizes, colors, and flavors. The variations of flavors depend on the region and conditions in which they were grown. According to The Spruce, “Most regional varietals will fall into two main categories, Robusta or Arabica.”
Robusta coffee beans tend to be used in large-scale commercial brews, and they’re considered to have a more acidic taste and higher caffeine levels. Arabica beans tend to have more diverse flavor notes, but they’re difficult to grow, which increases the demand and price of this superior bean. If you buy your beans from a local coffee shop, you’re most likely buying Arabica beans.
The beans you buy come in a range of caramel to chocolatey brown colors, but they don’t start off that way. The original green colored beans are roasted with a dry heat, but their roasting times play an important role in the coffee’s brewed flavor. The three main categories are light, medium, and dark.
Light roasts retain a larger amount of the bean’s original flavor. They tend to be a little more acidic and feature brighter, sharper tastes and little to no “roasted” notes. Medium roasts have a darker color, an oily appearance, and tend to have a balance between the roasting effects and the bean’s original flavor. Medium beans tend to be the most popular of the three categories. Dark roasts focus heavily on the flavors derived from the roasting process. The bean’s original flavors are almost completely overcome by the roast, so your coffee will have a powerful smoky taste. Dark roasts are typically used in espresso drinks, like lattes and macchiatos.
Gone are the days of basic automatic coffee makers. With this new knowledge, you’ll be able to find the roast you’re the most interested in and brew coffee at home like a pro. If you plan on buying your coffee pre-ground, it’s best to use it as fast as possible. The Perfect Daily Grind says, “Coffee has a shelf life. This will vary, but a good rule of thumb is to only buy the coffee you’ll drink that week. Store your coffee in an airtight container at room temperature and out of direct sunlight.”
If you’re buying roasted beans, you can either grind the beans at home with a hand grinder or electric grinder, or you can bring your bag to a grocery store for grinding. A lot of coffee shops will grind the beans they sell to you before you leave the store. If you’re grinding your beans at home, it’s best to grind only what you will need to brew for that day and store the rest away.
So, you’re probably asking, “What do I do with my coffee now?!”
There are two techniques that have grown in popularity over the past few years: pour over brewing and immersion brewing. You can achieve both of these at home, but you will need some equipment to properly brew using these techniques.
Pour over coffee can be achieved using a coffee-specific glass pitcher, a porcelain dripper, a coffee filter, a kettle of hot water, and a kitchen scale. The porcelain dripper can be placed on top of either the glass pitcher or the coffee mug you intend to drink from. We like Blue Bottle Coffee’s easy-to-follow guide to the perfect pour over coffee.
Immersion coffee is most commonly associated with the French press or AeroPress. You can find French press and AeroPress coffee makers in home goods stores across the Greater New Orleans area. French press style is one of the easiest brewing styles, and unlike the single-serve pour over technique, it allows you to make larger amounts at one time. Follow The Kitchn’s guide to French press brewing here.
You Brew It!
Not only will making coffee at home save you money, it will help keep our environment clean of plastic cups and harmful plastic straws. If you’re interested in learning more about the complex range of coffee flavors and roasting styles, you can visit a local coffee shop for one of their free “cupping” lessons. This is a great way to find the flavor profile that suits your tastes and puts you on the fast track to home-brewing glory.
Our brand-new luxury living community in Elmwood, Clearwater Creek Premier, is loaded with state-of-the-art features and apartment amenities you won’t find anywhere else in the Greater New Orleans Area. One of our goals for this new development was to provide energy efficient options in every single one of Clearwater Creek Premier’s living spaces.
Cooking Up Savings
At the center of this effort are the electric convection range and double-ovens located in the kitchen of each residence. The range uses radiant heating elements on its stovetop, which is significantly more energy efficient than its generic electric coil counterparts. Radiant coils are similar to traditional coil burners, but instead of protruding from the top of the range, they sit under a smooth and flat ceramic surface. Heat is conserved better under the ceramic top, which allows for faster heating times and higher heat outputs. Plus, it’s easier to clean!
Just under the range’s sleek stove are two, that’s right, two ovens! The ovens on this range utilize a dual element baking technique, which combines the efforts of the baking coil and the broiling coil for comprehensive cooking. The smaller top oven is ideal for warming or short cooking times, while the larger, convection-style oven offers delay bake and audible preheating capabilities.
If you’re ready to enjoy all of the perks of your Clearwater Creek Premier stovetop and range, put on your chef’s hat and try your hand at a few of our favorite seasonal recipes below!
Corn & Crab Soup for the Winter Soul
Warm up when there’s a chill in the air with this rich and creamy Corn and Crab Soup recipe from Bon Appetit:
1 16- ounce bag frozen petite white corn (do not thaw), divided
1 cup low-fat (1%) milk
1 8- ounce bottle clam juice
4 tablespoons sliced green onions, divided
2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger, divided
4 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, divided
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
4 ounces cooked crabmeat, flaked
Reserve 1/4 cup corn. Bring remaining corn and milk to boil in medium saucepan. Cover; remove from heat. Let stand 10 minutes. Puree mixture in blender. Add clam juice, 3 tablespoons green onions, and 1 teaspoon ginger; puree again until almost smooth. Return puree to saucepan; bring to simmer. Mix in 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.
Melt butter in small skillet over medium heat. Add reserved 1/4 cup corn; sauté 1 minute. Add crab, 1 tablespoon green onions, 1 teaspoon ginger, and 3 teaspoons lemon juice; stir just until warm. Season with salt and pepper. Divide soup among bowls; mound crab mixture in center.
Chili-Roasted Black-eyed Peas for a Lucky New Year
Good luck starts by pre-heating your state-of-the-art oven. Munch on this recipe from My Recipes:
2 (15.8-oz.) cans black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon pepper
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 425°. Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Transfer mixture to a lightly greased 17- x 12-inch jelly-roll pan. Bake 45 to 50 minutes or until crispy and dry, stirring every 10 minutes. Let cool 20 minutes.
Become a King Cake Connoisseur before Carnival
Mardi Gras will be here before you know it! Parade your new oven’s capabilities with this popular Mardi Gras King Cake recipe from Epicurious:
For the cake:
1 cup lukewarm milk, about 110°F
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons dry yeast
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup melted butter
5 egg yolks, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon grated fresh lemon zest
3 teaspoons cinnamon
Several gratings of fresh nutmeg
For the icing:
2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup condensed milk
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Purple, green, and gold decorative sugars
1 fève (fava bean) or plastic baby to hide in the cake after baking
For the cake, pour the warm milk into a large bowl. Whisk in the granulated sugar, yeast, and a heaping tablespoon of the flour, mixing until both the sugar and the yeast have dissolved.
Once bubbles have developed on the surface of the milk and it begins to foam, whisk in the butter, eggs, vanilla, and lemon zest. Add the remaining flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg and fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients with a large rubber spatula.
After the dough comes together, pulling away from the sides of the bowl, shape it into a large ball. Knead the dough on a floured surface until it is smooth and elastic, about 15 minutes.
Put the dough back into the bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside in a draft-free place to let it proof, or rise, for 1 1/2 hours or until the dough has doubled in volume.
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Once the dough has risen, punch it down and divide the dough into 3 equal pieces. Roll each piece of dough between your palms into a long strip, making 3 ropes of equal length. Braid the 3 ropes around one another and then form the braided loaf into a circle, pinching ends together to seal. Gently lay the braided dough on a nonstick cookie sheet and let it rise until it doubles in size, about 30 minutes.
Once it’s doubled in size, place the cookie sheet in the oven and bake until the braid is golden brown, about 30 minutes. Remove the cake from the oven, place on a wire rack, and allow to cool for 30 minutes.
For the icing, while the cake is cooling, whisk together the powdered sugar, condensed milk, and lemon juice in a bowl until the icing is smooth and very spreadable. If the icing is too thick, add a bit more condensed milk; if it’s a touch too loose, add a little more powdered sugar.
Once the cake has cooled, spread the icing over the top of the cake and sprinkle with purple, green, and gold decorative sugars while the icing is still wet. Tuck the fève or plastic baby into the underside of the cake and, using a spatula, slide the cake onto a platter.
Tour Clearwater Creek Premier Today!
If you’re looking to make moves in 2018, consider visiting Clearwater Creek Premier today! Not only will you enjoy the cost-saving benefits of our kitchen appliances, but you’ll gain access to a multitude of other living amenities that will make you feel like you’re living in a luxury resort.
With football season underway and the weather cooling down, fall is truly the perfect time to tailgate in New Orleans. If you’re in need of some football tailgate recipe inspo, take a look at these fun and easy recipes perfect for a crowd.
Charleston Cheese Dip
Sure, we live in New Orleans, but we can enjoy a little love from the Low Country with this creamy, cheesy dip recipe from Food Network. Serve it with tortilla chips and crudité like carrots or celery.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In a medium bowl, mix the mayonnaise, cream cheese, Cheddar cheese, Monterey Jack cheese, green onions and cayenne pepper. Transfer the mixture to a shallow baking dish, such as a 9-inch pie pan. Top the mixture with the cracker crumbs and bake until heated through, about 15 minutes.
Remove the pan from the oven and top with the bacon.
Roasted Jalapeno Poppers
These aren’t exactly healthy, but roasting is a better alternative than typical breaded, fried poppers while adding deep, complex flavor.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Cut 1/3 of each pepper off lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Place on a baking sheet. If peppers do not sit flat on the baking sheet, slice a thin piece off the bottom of the pepper so it will not roll around.
Mash the feta, cream cheese, shredded cheese, cilantro, and onion together and stuff the peppers with the mixture. Roast for 15 to 18 minutes, or until the peppers are tender and the cheese is brown at the edges and bubbly.
PB&J Chocolate Bars
Finish on a salty-sweet note with these delectable dessert bars!
For the base
For the filling and glaze
Make the base: Line an 8-inch square baking pan with foil, extending it over the sides. Put the butter in a medium heatproof bowl; position the bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water (the bowl should not touch the water). Once the butter melts, stir in the sugar and cocoa. Whisk in the egg; cook, whisking, until the mixture is warm and the consistency of hot fudge, 6 minutes. Remove from the heat; mix in the saltine crumbs and peanuts. Press the crust into the pan. Set aside the saucepan of water.
Make the filling: Spread the jelly over the crust in the pan; place in the freezer for a few minutes. Beat 5 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon butter, the peanut butter and confectioners’ sugar with a mixer until light. Spread over the jelly layer; return to the freezer while you make the glaze.
Place the chocolate and the remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a heatproof bowl; set over the pan of simmering water and stir until the chocolate is melted. Remove from the heat; stir until smooth. When cool but still runny, spread the glaze over the chilled peanut butter layer. Freeze for another 30 minutes.
Use the foil flaps to remove the bars from the pan; cut into squares while still cold. Serve cold and keep leftovers refrigerated.
When asked the age-old question “trick or treat?” we definitely stand with team treat. Check out five easy, last-minute recipes to help you get in the spooky spirit, from “poison” candy apples to a crowd-pleasing dessert dip. Bone appetit!
Quick and Easy Halloween Dessert Recipes
Poison Candy Apples
Channel your inner Snow White with this sweet recipe.
12 small Granny Smith apples
12 dowels or wooden candy apple sticks (available at craft stores)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 tsp. black gel paste food coloring
Note: you’ll also need a candy thermometer
Wash and dry the apples thoroughly. Place them on a baking sheet and insert the dowels. Using a second baking sheet, line with buttered parchment paper and set aside.
Place a candy thermometer in a saucepan. Add sugar, 3/4 cup water, and corn syrup, and place over medium heat. Whisk sugar until it’s dissolved.
Let the temperature rise without stirring until the mixture reaches 310 degrees. Remove pan from heat, and carefully remove the thermometer.
Add the food coloring and swirl to mix the color completely.
Swirl each apple through the candy, allowing any excess to drip off. Place on buttered baking sheet.
Repeat with remaining apples.
Owl Sugar Cookies
Simple and sweet! You can make basic sugar cookies using this recipe, or go the easy route and purchase a pre-made slice-and-bake option.
One package slice-and-bake sugar cookie dough (such as Pillsbury or Nestle)
Small package of sliced almonds
1/4 cup chocolate chips
2 tbsp. shelled sunflower seeds
1/4 cup whole almonds
Preheat oven to 350 degrees (or whatever temperature is stated on the back of your packaged dough)
Set all but one cookie round onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Use the remaining unbaked cookie to make small balls that will become each owl’s eyes. Lightly press two balls onto the top of each cookie, then place a whole almond on its side in between the two eyes for the beak. Add a chocolate chip on top of each dough ball to create the pupil. Use six sunflower seeds (three on each side) to make the owl’s feet. Finally, overlap three sliced almonds on each side to create wings.
Bake for about 20 minutes until the edge of the cookies are lightly golden. Let cool for 5 minutes on the sheet, then transfer onto a wire rack to continue cooling.
Perfect for a crowd of hungry ghosts and goblins.
For the dip —
Shallow, wide dish
1 package room temperature cream cheese (8 ounces)
1/4 cup room temperature unsalted butter
5 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons milk
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons sifted powdered sugar
Crushed Oreo cookies (enough to cover the top of the dish)
For decorating —
Black decorating icing
Candy corn pumpkins
For serving —
Beat together the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add the cocoa powder, brown sugar, vanilla extract, salt, and milk. Beat on low speed until incorporated, then increase to high speed until smooth, about 3 minutes.
Transfer to desired serving dish and smooth with a spatula.
Spread the crushed Oreos over the top of the dip to form “dirt.” Use decorating icing to write tombstone messages on the Milano cookies, then stand them upright to create the tombstones. Scatter with candy corn pumpkins and gummy worms to decorate.
Serve with graham crackers, pretzels, and sliced apples.
It’s fruit, so it’s healthy… right?
4 ripe bananas
1 pound plus 4 ounces white chocolate
4 ounces milk chocolate chips (optional)
8 lollipop sticks (available at craft stores)
Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Skewer each banana half with a lollipop stick and freeze until firm, at least 2 hours and preferably overnight.
In a large, microwave-safe measuring cup, melt 1 pound white chocolate in the microwave according to package directions. One at a time, dip the bananas into the chocolate to coat, allowing excess to drip. Return to the baking sheet and immediately place two M&M candies near the top for eyes.
Melt the remaining white chocolate in the microwave according to package directions and fill a small piping bag fitted with a small, round nozzle tip (a Ziploc plastic bag with the corner cut off will also work!). Pipe zigzags over the banana to form bandages. Repeat this step with the milk chocolate, if using. Chill or freeze until ready to serve.
Can’t decide if you prefer your treat salty or sweet? These haystacks feature both flavors!
One 5-ounce can thin chow mein noodles (such as La Choy)
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup vanilla frosting, tinted desired colors
Candy eyes or jelly beans
Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Meanwhile, melt chocolate in microwave according to package directions.
Place chow mein noodles in a large bowl, pour melted chocolate over top and gently toss until noodles are evenly coated
Drop 10 heaping spoonful’s (about 1/4 cup each) onto prepared baking sheet. Refrigerate until firm, 20 to 30 minutes.
Transfer frosting to a resealable plastic bag(s). Snip off a tiny corner and use as glue to stick the eyes on creatures, then pipe on an additional pupil.
Outdoor dining and summer just go hand in hand. Plus, since many of our 1st Lake Properties feature outdoor grilling and patio areas, it’s easy to host an al fresco event for friends and family. Get cooking with this easy summer cookout recipe menu: start with Vietnamese-inspired grilled wings, then pick from two sides and two desserts (or make ’em all!).
Summer Cookout Recipes
The Main Event
Saigon Chicken Wings
These wings from Food & Wine pay homage to Vietnamese cuisine (ever-popular in New Orleans!)
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 medium shallots, chopped
2 stalks lemongrass, tender white inner bulbs only, chopped
One 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup Asian fish sauce
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon vegetable oil, plus more for basting
12 whole chicken wings (2 1/2 to 3 pounds)
1/4 cup finely chopped unsalted dry-roasted peanuts
In a mortar, pound the garlic, shallots, lemongrass, ginger and sugar to a paste. Stir in the fish sauce, lemon juice and the 1 tablespoon of oil. Alternatively, puree the ingredients in a mini-processor. Transfer to a large bowl.
Make 3 deep slashes in the meat part of each chicken wing. Add the wings to the bowl, stir to coat and marinate for 4 hours at room temperature, or preferably overnight in the refrigerator.
Light a grill. Thread the chicken wings on bamboo skewers, splaying each wing as widely as possible; reserve the marinade. Brush the wings with vegetable oil and grill over a medium-hot fire for 6 to 8 minutes per side, basting them once or twice with the reserved marinade, until crusty. Do not baste during the last 5 minutes. Transfer the chicken wings to a platter and sprinkle with the peanuts. Serve at once.
Potato Salad with Celery and Herbs
Ingredients like fresh dill, parsley, and dijon mustard add a bit of elegance to this classic recipe from Country Living. Bonus points for being able to be served warm, cold, or at room temperature!
3 lb. red new potatoes
¼ c. olive oil
2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
4 stalk celery
¼ c. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
¼ c. chopped fresh dill
2 hard-boiled eggs
Place the potatoes in a large pot, cover with cold water and bring to a boil. Add 2 teaspoon salt, reduce heat, and simmer until the potatoes are just tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Drain and run under cold water to cool. Cut the potatoes in half or quarter if large.
Meanwhile, grate 2 teaspoon lemon zest into a large bowl, then squeeze in the juice (you should have about 3 tablespoons juice total). Whisk in the oil, mustard, and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper.
Add the potatoes and celery to the bowl and gently toss to coat. Fold in the parsley and dill and top with the eggs, if desired.
Barbecue Ranch Pasta Salad
The Spicy Southern Kitchen blog serves up a smoky take on pasta salad that’s sure to be a hit with grownups and kids alike.
1poundpasta (such as cavatappi) cooked al dente
1cupHidden Valley Honey BBQ Dressing
1can black beans,rinsed and drained
1/2red bell pepper,diced
1/2small red onion,finely diced
1 1/2cupsdiced cooked chicken
1cupshredded cheddar cheese
2tablespoonschopped fresh cilantro
Place cooked pasta in a large bowl.
Stir together Hidden Valley Honey BBQ Dressing and sour cream and pour over pasta. Toss to mix.
Add all remaining ingredients, except corn chips, and stir to combine.
Refrigerate until ready to serve and sprinkle corn chips on top just before serving.
Stone Fruit Pouches
Alton Brown’s recipe for stone fruit pouches is practically made for the grill.
Creme fraiche or vanilla ice cream for serving
Heat coals of grill or fire pit. Cut 8 (18 by 18-inch) squares of aluminum foil. Lay down double thickness of foil and divide gingersnaps evenly among the 4 squares. Divide fruit evenly and place on top of gingersnaps. Dot with butter.
In small bowl mix sugar, salt, and lime zest. Sprinkle sugar mixture evenly over fruit, drizzle with juice and brandy and seal packets. Once coals are ash covered, lay packets over them and cover with lid of grill. If cooking in a fire pit carefully try to partially bury packets in hot coals.
Cook for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and open carefully, as steam inside packet is very hot. Serve on plates as is or spoon into shallow bowls and top with creme fraiche or ice cream.
This recipe from Woman’s Day features the jewels of summertime: bright, juicy berries. We like that it can be served cool or at room temperature, making it easy for outdoor dining.
1 (8-oz.) package cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 c. confectioners’ sugar
2 c. refrigerated whipped topping (Cool Whip works well)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and dust a piece of parchment paper lightly with flour. Shape the cookie dough into a circle, then roll out smoothly on the parchment into a 12″ circle or three 1⁄4″-thick circles. Place the parchment and dough onto a cookie sheet and bake until golden brown, 15 to 18 minutes. Transfer the cookie (still on parchment) to a wire rack and let cool for at least 15 minutes.
As the cookie dough bakes, whisk together the jam and lemon juice in a large bowl. Add the berries and toss to coat. With an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and sugar in a large bowl until smooth, about 1 minute. Add the whipped topping and beat to combine.
Spread the cream cheese mixture onto the cooled cookie, leaving a 1⁄2″ border. Top with the berry mixture.