That’s Mancktastic: Cappuccino Edition

That’s Mancktastic: Cappuccino Edition

About a month ago, Bill randomly got a wild hair to go out for cappuccinos one night just before we went to bed. (Honestly, I think it was an excuse to drive around in his “new” car)

I decided to go with him for a mini-date night and was blown away by how much I loved the foamy, rich coffee!

Sidenote: I gave up caffeine this year, completely unintentionally. I went a few days in the New Year without it, and decided to just roll with it. My caffeine-addict of a husband finds this beyond the pale.

As the weeks went by, I customized my Starbucks order to just how I liked it: grande, decaf cappuccino with sugar-free vanilla syrup. Then… my (cappuccino) life changed forever when we went up to Albany for vacation and visited our favorite coffeeshop: Perfect Blend. -cue the angels singing for THE BEST COFFEESHOP OF ALL TIME-

There, the espresso was delicious, lacking the burned quality of most Starbucks roasts, and they were GENEROUS with the foam. Over our two week stay, I watched the baristas like hawks to deduce all their secrets.

Since we’ve returned to Houston, I am getting close to mastering the perfect homemade cappuccino – which is good for my wallet – and here’s a That’s Mancktastic! of my favorite tools 🙂


Espresso Machine: IMUSA 4-Cup Espresso Machine

We bought this espresso machine a few months ago to try and wean Bill off his Starbucks addiction since we needed to buy a new car and he had one priiiiicy habit… It’s super-easy to use, cleans up easily and, most importantly, is cheap!! I mean, $30 for an espresso machine? That’ll do. It’s a no-frills work-horse that doesn’t take up a lot of counter space and it’s just what we needed.



Milk Foamer: Kuissential Deluxe Automatic Milk Frother

One of my main loves of cappuccino is the FOAM! After our New York trip, and the deepening of my cappuccino obsession, a ManckWhite household decision was made that we must needs get a milk frother of some sort because I am incapable of steaming milk.

After watching this very informative video about which milk frother is right for you, we settled on the Kuissential because we wanted the heating and the frothing to happen all together instead of several steps. In addition to the hot foam for cappuccinos, it also makes warm, non-frothed milk and cold milk froth for iced drinks in COMPLETE SILENCE.

We’ve had this frother for a week now, and it’s just great. Works really quickly, easy to clean, and make yummy, yummy foam. I use the foam on every coffee now, not just cappuccinos 😉


Espresso: Lavazza Decaffeinated Ground Espresso

Before I was spoiled on the Perfect Blend home-roasted espresso, we’d been contenting ourselves on Starbucks brews and the in-house beans from HEB. Since we’re back, we’ve upgraded to the Lavazza which Bill said was his go-to before grad school made him poor 😉 Now that we’re DINKS (dual income, no kids), we’re back on the good stuff! Flavorful, no burnt essence, and beautifully ground.



Vanilla Syrup: Torani Vanilla Bean Syrup

This is the main takeaway from my Perfect Blend addiction – Vanilla Bean is the key! Something about the extra oomph of vanilla BEAN as opposed to straight vanilla brings the whole cappuccino together. The drink is traditionally unsweetened, but this makes it perfect for me.


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So, there you have it. The perfect ManckWhite cappuccino tools are simply… Mancktastic!
Let me know what your home barista secrets are!

(note, these are affiliate Amazon links – thanks!)

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S’mores Crunch Cookies

S’mores Crunch Cookies

These cookies are one of those baking miracles that occasionally happen. Let’s say you suddenly remember you want to make cookies for your husband’s co-workers one evening after work, but didn’t prepare at all and don’t really have an idea in mind. So, you comb through your Evernote “Cookies” notebook, looking for something you can make with what you have in the house.

You stumble upon Toffee Crunch Cookies from Shugary Sweets, a recipe you saved years ago and completely forgot about. The ingredient list looks a little intense and random, but behold! the pantry contains everything you need. Plus, your husband loves toffee. The cookies come together quickly, only dirtying one bowl, which your dishes-hating self loves.

So, you make the cookies as he attends some weird coaches’ training and are shocked to discover, upon removing the cookies from the oven, that they taste NOTHING like toffee. But they are delicious! A renaming is in order as you nom your delicious cookie, crunchy with rice crisps, hearty with oats, and chockful of little baby marshmallows and chocolate chips.

Well.. duh! They must be s’more crunch cookies! All of the delicious flavors of the fireside treat, plus the crunch and heartiness you remember from the elementary school’s cowboy cookies, and a side of wonderful, ooey, gooey baked goodness.

Take them to your husband’s co-workers. They will love you, they will be impressed. Take them to your co-workers. They will love them, they will demand the recipe 🙂

S’mores Crunch Cookies
(makes approximately 28 medium cookies, or two cookie sheets worth)

  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • ½ cup shortening (or another stick of butter)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 1 Tablespoon almond extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 cups quick oats
  • 1 cup Rice Krispies
  • 1-¼ cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1 cup mini marshmallows
  • I think that pecans or walnuts would be delish as a mix-in too. Customize the shiz out of them!

 

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. Line 2 cookie sheets with a silpat or parchement paper.
  3. In your mixer bowl, beat butter, shortetning, sugar, and brown sugar together on medium until light and fluffy.
  4. While the beater runs on low, add eggs one at a time, then add almond extract.
  5. Add flour, baking soda and baking powder to mixer bowl, then beat on medium until well-combined.
  6. Remove bowl from mixer, and fold oats, Rice Krispies, chocolate chips and marshmallows with a spatula until everything is well distributed.
  7. Roll batter into 1-2 Tablespoon balls, and place on cookie sheets, 1-2” apart.
  8. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until centers are set.
  9. Cool on the cookie sheets for 5-10 minutes, then enjoy!
  10. Store in an air-tight container for up to 5 days.

Based on a recipe from Shugary Sweets

 

Oh My GAD

Oh My GAD

It’s hard to remember a time before I wasn’t a circular thinker. I’d dwell on things for a ridiculously long time, worry about every move I made and dissect it long after everyone else involved had let it go.

As an adult, I’d come to accept my anxiety as part of who I was – just another an aspect of my personality.

I have been lucky enough to find a supportive and caring community to hold me up when life was hard and help me keep my “crazy” at bay since I was little. As an adult, being married to an introvert was especially helpful – we could stick with predictable and he served as my calm, stable rock when I was hyperventilating about needing to get air in my tires or if my boss was upset with me (spoiler alert: she wasn’t).

Unfortunately, in the past few years, my anxiety kept increasing. I knew depression ran in the maternal branch of my family, so that helped me in knowing I might have some funky brain chemistry. At my worst, I was dealing with panic attacks about basic tasks like going to work or having to make phone calls. At first, I was able to write it off as having a higher stress job than ever before, with people I didn’t want to let down, but it didn’t explain why I started crying when the CEO was “mean” to me.

After one too many crying jags at a lunch with my (very understanding) boss and mentor, and discussing it with Bill, I decided it was time to talk to a doctor because this just wasn’t a healthy way to live. I found a doctor covered by my insurance, and after a conversation with her (including yet another spate of tears), I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder or GAD.

One of the very best descriptions of GAD I’ve encountered just popped up on Buzzfeed today. I immediately shoved it in front of Bill’s fact and said THIS IS IT!

It’s so wonderful to have someone put into words (and gifs) all the things I’ve felt my whole life – for instance:

“One second I’m safe in my apartment watching Netflix, the next it’s like UGH WTF WHY DO I FEEL THIS EXISTENTIAL DREAD WHY CAN’T I BREATHE NORMALLY ANYMORE THERE IS LITERALLY NOTHING HAPPENING WHY???”

“Being able to schedule things and have a plan helps us chill, so ~winging things~ is just not enjoyable. Can we just decide when and where we’re going to meet?”

“You’re running late? OK, so do I sit here and do nothing for what could be, like, three hours? Do I start something that will inevitably be interrupted when you get here in five minutes? Did you die on your way over? UGH WHY CAN’T I JUST RELAX?”

“We don’t expect you to know the right thing to do or say. We just appreciate you being there.”

Now, I take a daily maintenance medication and meet with my doctor every few months to discuss how my brain is working and any side effects. The difference I have felt since starting my medication has been truly life-changing.

Bill has his wife back, I’m the creative employee my organization and co-workers deserve, and I’m simply and happily less crazy. That may sound dismissive or simplistic, but that’s the heart of my experience.

So, I guess this is sort of like a coming-out of sorts for me.

Hi, I’m Emily. My brain is broken, but I’m working to fix it the best I can. Thanks for hanging in there with me, and loving me for who I am.

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Red Wine Braised Calamari with Pearl Couscous

Red Wine Braised Calamari with Pearl Couscous

Soooo…. I wrote this post almost a year ago and then fell off the blogging wagon. As I updated my theme and all that jazz, I noticed that it was still floating around. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, diced
  • 1 pound squid, cleaned
    • I get the frozen tubes and tentacles from Harvest of the Sea, in the HEB seafood department. Then cut the tubes into 1-inch rings.
  • ½-1 cup red wine (I used pinot noir)
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme (or a couple sprigs of fresh thyme)
  • 1-2 teaspoons of Italian blend spices (I used Sandwich Sprinkle from Penzey’s, which is garlic, coarse salt, basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme, marjoram, black pepper)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Pearl couscous, prepared using package instructions, including “optional” butter and salt

 

Procedures

  1. Put 1 Tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet (with a lid), and heat on medium-high. Add garlic to skillet, and brown.
  2. When garlic is browned, add the squid, sauté for 30 seconds or so (they’ll puff up a little), then reduce heat to medium-low.
  3. Add ½ cup wine, thyme and 1 teaspoon of spices to the skillet, stir to combine all, and cover.
  4. Cook at a slow simmer (just little bubbles) for 30-45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so.
  5. When the wine is reduced to basically nothing, and squid is of a pleasing texture, remove the cover and add remaining wine and the remaining spices, as well as salt and pepper, to taste.
  6. Reduce the wine over medium heat until you have a nice little amount of luscious sauce.
  7. Top the prepared couscous with squid and sauce. Enjoy with the rest of your bottle of red wine!
Sharp Dressed Lady: August

Sharp Dressed Lady: August

My side bangs are getting so long they can be a twist! This #sharpdressedlady #ootd features pieces from Talbot's outlet, Ann Taylor outlet, and Target. Woo being frugal!
My side bangs were getting so long they could be a twist! This outfit features pieces from Talbot’s outlet, Ann Taylor outlet, and Target. Woo being frugal!
Soooo, I cut most of my hair off this weekend ;) Why I waited until August for a summer haircut, I could not tell ya. #sharpdressedlady #ootd
Soooo, then I cut most of my hair off 😉 Why I waited until August for a summer haircut, I could not tell ya.
My first ever @StitchFix necklace makes its grand debut with a #sharpdressedlady #ootd!
My first ever StitchFix necklace makes its grand debut with this outfit! I think highlighting the brown and orange in this bold floral skirt really works without being too BAHBAM.
I just love making faux-dresses with a shirt + belt + skirt combo for the #sharpdressedlady #ootd! Today, I'm trying my new short hairz curly/wavy and I'm pretty happy with it. This is just mousse on wet hair before I went to bed, then a little scrunching
I just love making faux-dresses with a shirt + belt + skirt combo, especially this one! I’ve been relying on this outfit, with different cardigans, for several years -according to my archives. This day, I tried my new short hairz curly/wavy and I’m pretty happy with it. This is just mousse on wet hair before I went to bed, then a little scrunching
It's a Monday #ootd with my college graduation dress, of all things!
This is my college graduation dress, of all things!
And I just realized I never shared my #sharpdressedlady #ootd from Friday, either - so here you go! Enjoy this chambray shirt with knockoff Kate Spade necklace ;)
A casual Friday outfit with the “jeans” on top instead of bottom! Enjoy this chambray shirt with knockoff Kate Spade necklace 😉
Back to the classics #ootd #sharpdressedlady Can't beat a striped pencil skirt, especially when it's comfy knit and cost $6 :)
Back to the classics.Can’t beat a striped pencil skirt, especially when it’s comfy knit and cost $6 🙂 Love the crochet detail on this Old Navy tank.
Who doesn't love a free shirt? The top in this #ootd is courtesy of my friend, Keri :) A very monochrome #sharpdressedlady outfit.
Who doesn’t love a free shirt? The top in this monochrome outfit is courtesy of my friend, Keri 🙂