Homemade Horchata

I made horchata for the first time a few weeks ago.  I’ve never tasted it before, so it’s hard to say if my version is authentic.  I do know that mine is good, and I’d definitely make it again.  I came up with my recipe by studying several horchata recipes on the internets.  Horchata is a refreshing sweetened rice milk drink from Latin America.  Some recipes call for milk, and others do not.  I used milk in mine, along with granulated sugar and medium grain rice.  Most recipes call for long grain rice, but the medium grain worked for me.


I used skim milk, but in the future I think I’d use two percent, or maybe even coconut milk for a creamier version.  Also, I was thinking that basmati rice might be good in horchata, since it’s so nutty and flavorful.

Okay, to make horchata, you blend together rice and water in a blender for a few minutes until very finely ground. I stirred the mixture a bit, and then blended it again. You want to blend the rice as finely as possible. This would be great to do in a Vitamix blender, if you have one. Sadly, I do not.

The rice water soaks together for a couple of hours after it’s blended; the longer you soak, the better – it softens the rice, plus adds more rice flavor to the water.  Then the rice gets blended again for a few more minutes.  The rice water is strained into a pitcher (discard the rice), and milk and sugar are whisked in.  I also added some vanilla and a pinch of sea salt, which I highly recommend.  The salt balanced the sweetness… I couldn’t believe what a difference it made.

The horchata is finished at this point, but you should chill it down and let the flavors meld together. Drink as is, OR, blend it with ice and RumChata! 

That’s what I did.  RumChata is a horchata liqueur with rum, if you couldn’t figure that out yourself.  It’s delicious!

Top the horchata with whipped cream and cinnamon.


If you don’t make this drink this summer, I will know, and I’ll be very upset with you.  It tastes like rice pudding.

See you from Chicago!  Be good.

Homemade Horchata

3 cups water
1 cup medium grain white rice
1 1/4 cups milk
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 a vanilla bean, seeds scraped out
Pinch of finely ground sea salt
Ground cinnamon
RumChata (optional)

Blend together water and rice in a blender for 2-3 minutes, or until rice is very finely chopped.  Pour mixture into a large mixing bowl, cover, and allow to soak 2 hours, stirring occasionally.

Blend rice again for 2 minutes; strain liquid into a pitcher.  Dispose rice.  Whisk in milk, sugar, vanilla and sea salt until well combined.  Chill until ready for use.  Serve with cinnamon sprinkled on top, over ice.

To make the cocktail, fill a glass with ice.  Stir in 1/4 cup RumChata and 3/4 cup horchata.  Serve with whipped cream and cinnamon.…

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Guest Post: How to Uninstall WoW From Your Life :Way of the Totem

This is a guest post by Wistoovern, a long time priest  raider and real life friend of mine. I don’t often, if ever receive guest posts. I’m posting this because as someone who finds themselves playing World of Warcraft for a very long time, and managing other folks that do, this is something that’s always on my mind. People quit, leave the game for many reasons, but sometimes it’s hard to really put yourself in the mindset of the person who quit. Hoping that this perspective post will aid others in empathizing with those who no longer raid or play the game with you. 

So, I stopped playing WoW about three months ago.  It wasn’t a simple decision.

Now, I know what you’re thinking.  ”He left WoW because he hates what the game’s become” or “because it’s changed so much”.  That’s really not the case.  Yeah, it’s changed.  Some ways were for the better, some weren’t, some were reversed.  There’s two points to this post: one, to thank to Devs; two, to note how much harder it is to get it out of my life than off of my computer.


I mean, does anyone REALLY think that it was so much better ‘back then’?  I don’t just mean the obvious “I could sneeze on my keyboard and out-heal what I was doing at level 60″. I mean the real gameplay.  Not only was there no flying in Vanilla, the flight paths weren’t even connected to each other.  We had no dual specs, no Jewelcrafting or Inscription, nodailies, no “Will not be Traded” option when Enchanting or Lockpicking, no Horde pallies orAlliance shamans, no reforging, no vendor mounts, no Mass Resurrection, no fishing tracking, no hero classes, no transmogrification (so your gear always looked like your armorer was the Goodwill), no raid placemarks (remember using smoke flares for that?) no real benefit to Cooking, no warlock portal, and no way to talk to friends on other servers.  Mounts and pets were stored in bagspace.  Hunters had to carry ammunition.  Spells likePrayer of Fortitude were drops, not taught by trainers.  Flasks could only be made in one or two places, you couldn’t be on more than twenty quests at a time and the tracker provided no direction, there were only eight races, you couldn’t put multiple stacks of things up on theauction house all at once, there was only one auction house per faction, you couldn’t trackmore than one thing at a time, and mining gave you a single piece of ore for each attempt, requiring multiple attempts per vein IF it worked.

Then there was the big stuff: you couldn’t faction change a character, you couldn’t transfer from PvE to PvP servers, you couldn’t change hair or other cosmetic details, you couldn’t be in a party or a raid with someone on another server, there were no “account-bound” items…

Don’t get me wrong.  There are things I miss (how I loved you, Prayer of Spirit…), but for the most part, I like where the game went.  Another world, the frozen north, a mysterious island…I mean, they redid EVERYTHING in the Vanilla world for one expansion.  That’s ballsy.  But oh, the things we’ve lost: my precious Prayers of Spirit and Shadow Protection, priest racial abilities, individual hunter pet attack speed, various racial benefits, spearproficiency (hell, ANY specific weapon proficiency that needed levelling), stacked elixirs,keyrings, ranks of spells, world dragons, separate talent trees, librams, andMORROWGRAIN.

Heh – that last one kinda turns the whole thing around, doesn’t it?

So why go into all of this when I’m leaving?  Well, honestly, I’d like to thank the people that have put it together.  You didn’t just make it, bundle it up, and send it off on its own.  It wasn’t a static item that you mandated changes upon from up high.  You listened to us, you tested our ideas, you kept making improvements.  And while I can’t agree that they’re all for the better (still not a big fan of pet battles, to be honest), it can’t be denied that you’re out there, and that you’re trying.  Thank you from all of us.  Even the h8ers would have to agree that it wouldn’t be the same without you.

But in the end, it’s not just the game that’s changed.  I’VE changed.  I just doesn’t have the same appeal to me anymore.

I would get home from work and jump right into my ‘internet chores’: pick vegetables in my field and plant more, do dailies for rep and luck tokens, farm herbs for my guildies, and wait for raids.  There were alts to grind through old areas, achievements to claim, gold to hoard.  It became less a game and more an obligation.  Raids went from being a group activity that I looked forward to into a dull repetition entirely focused on in-game progress and not the revelry of joint success.  I remember one boss in Cataclysm; my guild wiped on it A HUNDRED TIMES (I counted – logs work both ways) before the raid leader finally capitulated (under duress; he was a jerk) into trying a new strategy.

That kind of thing really wears at you after a while.  So, I’ve stopped playing.  I took out my credit card information to let the time expire.  I gave all of my gold and useful non-bound items to a friend and set my good ol’ priest in a nice house in Pandaria to take a long nap.

I didn’t stop playing because the game got less interesting.  WoW is still fantastic.  There’s a ton of things to consistently enjoy in Mists.  It’s just not right for me anymore.  I got burned out.  And I might be back…but it’s not going to be the escape that it used to be.  It’ll be super casual.

And so here we are, three months later.  The game has been sitting cold and unopened on my computer since February.  I haven’t uninstalled it – I don’t really plan to, I’ve got the hard drive space to burn – but I have been slowly but surely uninstalling it from my life.  And it’s funny; I never realized exactly how much I had done to bring it IN to my life.  There was a slow, not-so-quiet stalk into my environment, and now that I’m starting to phase things out, I’m waking up to the realization of how far it really got.  I mean, three months since I’ve played, and I still read patch notes.


I took off my “Priest” button after it turned out that I wasn’t raiding anymore.  I wasn’t as excited to advertise my class when I wasn’t busting heads with 25 people anymore.  Just the other day, I deleted the WoW Armory app from my iPhone and moved the Authenticator to an “Unused” folder (just in case I do need to login and deleting/reinstalling the app isn’t smooth).  I’ve changed my desktop background from a WoW screenshot to a computer X-ray.

I haven’t taken off the WoW bumper stickers off my car yet.  I plan on it, but they’ve been on there for a while.  Not only do I have the “SW” and “IF” oval stickers that make it look like you visited there, and not only do I have the Alliance Lion back there too, but I have one that I made myself.  Back during BC, I made a set of bumper stickers with raid buffs from images I got online.  It was funny to me to give my car Power Word: Fortitude and Mark of the Wildand whatnot.  I’d joke around that I asked my insurance company if I could get a deductable because of Power Word: Shield, but that they said I would have to reapply the sticker every 30 seconds.  The license plate frame has to come off too.

It’s like the passing of an era.

I just changed my ringtones, too.  My default ringtone used to be a murloc shout.  Now it’s the chorus in a song.  My friend Dean was Nalorakk.  Andrew was Thermaplugg.  Good oldLodur was the aggro speech of Void Reaver.  My fire poi swinging brother was old-schoolRagnaros.  The list goes on.  And that goes for message sounds too; instead of having the Robot Laugh for my voicemail notification, it’s now a short clip of a scene from The Fifth Element.

I’m just now starting to wake up to how much I had WoW ornamenting my life.  Old BlizzCon pass?  Hanging from a peg on the wall in the corner.  The BlizzCon ’08 and Alliance T-shirts are folded and waiting to be put away.  A couple WoW comics are hanging out in my hard drive.  A novel‘s on the bookshelf in the bathroom (yes, a bookshelf in the bathroom; we call that room ‘The Library’ in my family).  The WotLK poster is down and rolled up in a tube in the closet.  My FigurePrint is sitting on top of my USB Hub, and Magni Bronzebeard is bravely defending my cable modem.  Will I put those two away?  I don’t know; my desk would look so BLANK without them.

The only things I can’t get rid of – and wouldn’t want to if I could – are the memories of playing the game.  I remember getting my Realm First achievements and how exhausted I was afterwards.  I remember seeing my guildies at BlizzCon.  I remember the hours of talking onMumble and Ventrilo.  I remember the anticipation in waiting for a new cinematic, reading about upcoming bosses, waiting in line for releases.  I suppose in time, these memories will fade – but for now, I’m going to appreciate them and the place they had in my life.  My time for playing WoW is over.

I guess the only thing I really can’t get rid of is the lingering sciatic problem I picked up from standing in the store line at BlizzCon for six and a half hours.  Ow.  …..oh, geez; thank Gods I never got that Tattoo.…

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Bread Machine Nutella Cinnamon Rolls

Happy Friday!  Do you know what’s this weekend?  Daylight saving time!  This is good news for food bloggers throughout the world.  Extra light at night for taking food pictures!  Hooray!  I’ve been having to take some of my food pictures in the mornings before I go to work, and the light is awful – especially if it’s cloudy and raining.

I don’t know.  It makes me really happy; I’m in such a good mood!  I don’t know what’s with me.  It might be because I just ate a couple of cookies.  Cookies just make me joyous.    

I’m feeling grateful. 

It’s almost springtime, love is in the air, my hair is extra soft, the new Andrew Bird album is amazing, I love my family, Mad Men is coming back on soon, and these Nutella cinnamon rolls are delicious.


I really have a thing for Nutella.  Doesn’t everyone?  That is, if you’ve tried it.  Once you try it, you get hooked.  I used the last of my Nutella in these cinnamon rolls.  Afterwards I scraped the last of the Nutella schmears out of the jar with my finger and devoured them.  I looked pathetic.  I don’t know what I would have done if someone walked in the kitchen right then.  I’d probably growl at them. 


I “made” the roll dough in my bread machine.  The dough could be used for bread, sticky buns or donuts, too.  It’s moist, buttery, light and fluffy.  The secret ingredient is unusual – mashed potato.  I’ve been using mashed potatoes in my breads recently, and I’m telling you, it’s what makes the dough.  You can’t taste potato in the dough, so don’t worry. 

Using a bread machine makes this recipe unbelievably easy, and if you have one in your possession, you must bake these.  After the machine does all of the hard work, and the dough has risen, you roll out the dough and slather it in butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and Nutella.  After rolling up, slicing, and allowing to rise again, the rolls are ready for baking.  

The rolls are glazed with a mixture of Nutella, confectioners’ sugar and milk. You get twice the amount of Nutella in this recipe compared to other Nutella recipes on the interwebs.

Also, this recipes makes two pans of cinnamon rolls – not one.  That shouldn’t be a problem. 

Nutella Cinnamon Rolls

2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup mashed potato
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour, plus additional for rolling
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, divided use
1/2 cup Nutella, divided use
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons milk

In exact order, combine eggs, sour cream, potato, 2 tablespoons butter, granulated sugar, flour, salt and yeast in a bread machine.  Set for a 1 1/2 lb. loaf, and allow bread machine to run through its cycle.  Remove risen dough before it starts baking.

Coat 2 13×9-inch baking dishes with cooking spray. 

Roll dough into a rectangle, 1/4-inch in thickness, using a rolling pin.  Brush with 2 tablespoons melted butter.  Warm 1/4 cup Nutella in microwave; brush evenly over dough.  Sprinkle brown sugar and cinnamon on top of dough.  Roll up dough, jellyroll style, and slice into 12 equal pieces; transfer to baking dishes.  Brush tops with remaining 1 tablespoon melted butter.  Cover dishes with plastic wrap.  Allow to rise in a warm area for 1 hour.

Heat oven to 375 degrees F.  Bake 20 minutes or until golden brown.

To make the glaze, in a small bowl, whisk together remaining 1/4 cup Nutella, confectioners' sugar and milk until well combined and smooth.  Drizzle glaze over cinnamon rolls.

Makes 12 big cinnamon rolls.…

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Sometimes I Want Baked Beans

I definitely haven't been myself this past week.

I haven't worked out at all. Zero.

I chewed bubble gum from a machine the other day. It was nutty.

I almost didn't watch Top Chef Desserts. I was this this close to not watching it. But then I did watch it. I'm glad I did, because seeing Seth kicked off totally made my night. What a nutcase.

I've been cooking more than I have been baking. I made baked beans.
Wait… they're baked… so I guess I have been baking.

I've been crock potting. My first crock potting experience.
I borrowed my parents' crock pot (circa early 1980's) and have been using it. I cooked some dried chickpeas in it and it went well. I've never cooked dried beans before. It was kind of magical.

Beans are the magical fruit. The more you eat…

… the more protein and fiber you gain. I bought some dried cranberry beans. Aren't they beautiful? I've never had a cranberry bean before. I think I'm going to crock pot them.

What would you make with cranberry beans? I was thinking a salad… or risotto. Soup? The possibilities are endless.

I made kabocha squash soup the other day. It was probably the best soup I've ever made in my life. I ate it for three days straight. Now I don't want soup for a while.

Beans, beans, back to the beans. I don't usually make baked beans, but the other night I had a strong craving and rolled with it. I picked up a few ingredients on my way home from work: maple bacon, maple baked beans, yellow onion and tomato paste. The other ingredients I used I already had at my house: brown sugar, molasses, hot sauce, chili powder and smoked paprika.

They're easy enough to make… cook the bacon (MMM OMG bacon!!), cook the onion, stir everything together and bake! After patiently waiting 45 minutes, you are rewarded with sweet, smoky, delicious baked beans. I recommend serving them with Jalapeno-Bacon Corn Muffins and barbecue chicken.

These baked beans are a little spicy, yes indeed. That's how I like 'em.
Everyone (Me, Me!) who has allergies could you a dose of spicy baked beans.

Emily's Spicy Baked Beans
Printable Recipe
3 strips maple bacon
1 cup finely chopped yellow onion
1 large can maple-bacon baked beans
1/2 small can of tomato paste
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons molasses
2 teaspoons hot sauce
1/2 teaspoon ground chili powder
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Cook bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp; remove from skillet and coarsely chop. Return skillet to heat, stir in onion, and cook 6-8 minutes or until golden and tender.

In an 8×8-inch baking dish, whisk together bacon, onion, baked beans, tomato paste, water, brown sugar, molasses, hot sauce, chili powder and smoked paprika until well combined.

Bake 45 minutes or until bubbly and a bean skin forms on top. 🙂…

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