Monthly Archives: April 2011

Homemade Syrup for Italian Soda or Coffee Flavoring

In my previous post, I talked about my italian soda experience. In an effort to remove artificial flavorings and sweeteners from my diet, however, I decided to look into making my own syrups for italian soda. These are various recipes I have gleaned and altered from all over the web. As you can see, this is basically simple syrup made with 1/2 white sugar and 1/2 brown sugar. You then add your flavorings in different ways. On Chowhound, there was a discussion at one point that if you used simple syrup at a one to one ration such as this, you would end up with mold in your syrup even if kept in the fridge after only a few short weeks. Some suggest that you should can the syrup, but I suspect that would change the flavor. Others suggest that if you make your simple syrup in a 2:1 sugar to water ratio, that it would keep longer as the resulting liquid is hyperviscous, thereby preventing growth of the mold. Food for thought.


* 1/2 cup white sugar
* 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
* 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
* 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 1 cup water


1. Stir together the white sugar, brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon in a small saucepan. Stir in vanilla extract and water. Bring to a rolling boil, stirring often. Continue to boil and stir until mixture thickens to syrup consistency. Remove from heat; cool 10 minutes before serving.


If you use vanilla beans in cooking, always reserve the pod (wrap and refrigerate) once you have scraped the seeds out because it is perfect for something like this. Simply add the pod to the sugar and water, prepare as above except without cinnamon, and remove it once the syrup has reduced. If you are only making a small batch, you might want to only use a portion of the vanilla pod. If you don’t use vanilla beans at home, you can add approximately 1 tsp. vanilla extract to the water & syrup instead. The syrup manufacturer Torani says that vanilla is their best selling flavor.

Follow the directions for cinnamon syrup, but substitute pumpkin pie spice for the cinnamon.

Make the simple syrup as above. Use a microplane to remove the outermost (green not white) part of 5-7 washed limes. You don’t want any of the very bitter white rind, just the outer zest.

Just after the boiling is finishing add the zest. Let it boil for about a minute and turn the heat off and let the mixture steep until room temperature. Strain through a fine sieve or cloth and squeeze or press the zest to get out all the flavor. Put it into a squeeze bottle and refrigerate.


Strawberries, 1lb Chopped and frozen
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup water


Wash, remove stems, and cut up strawberries. Place in freezer overnight. I suggest that you place the fruit in the freezer because when making fruit extracts with alcohol, you get better more intense flavor if the fruit is frozen first. I do not know for sure that this step in necessary. The next day, put into saucepan, add sugar and water. Bring to a boil. Add water. Boil until it thickens a little. Bottle and store in fridge.

Coconut syrup: I have never tried, but here is one person that has: The hungry engineer

Italian Style Soda

In a previous post, I talked about how we had bought the sodastream jet home soda maker, which is just a small CO2 canister connected to a device which allows you to carbonate water. You then add their proprietary syrups to make your own soda. They have many wonderful flavors of syrup, but the “coke” syrup tastes more like Pepsi and my husband has gone back to buying Coke in bottles. He also tried the mountain dew equivalent and that was also not the success that I had hoped for.

Since I am not addicted to soda like he is, but I like sparkling beverages, I decided to be more adventurous and deviate from the sodastream syrups. Originally I just added lime juice to their cranberry and pomegranate syrup. I am not good about measuring, I just pour about a tablespoon of the syrup and a tablespoon of lime juice in a liter glass and pour in the carbonated water. Yummy.

One day I was at the local coffee shop, enjoying a budget busting latte, when I noticed they were advertising “italian soda”. Normally, they don’t advertise italian soda, but they are gearing up for warmer weather when their income goes down because people don’t drink their hot coffee as much. I asked them how they made italian soda, and they grabbed a bottle of the torani syrup that they use to flavor coffees. Apparently Torani syrup comes in many different flavors, not just the hazelnut that I like in my lattes. They place one jigger of torani syrup and then add seltzer water and ice. Voila! italian soda, which goes for $2.50 a glass!

Torani has more than 80 flavored syrups, and they also have sugar free versions. You can find them in your grocery store if you’re lucky, or in your favorite spendy coffee shop. World Market has a wide variety of the syrups for a cheaper price than the coffee shops around here. You can always buy them online directly from Torani. This is probably the only way to get some of the more unique flavors, like italian eggnog and bacon.

There are other italian syrups to buy, such as DaVinci, Dolce, and Monin. I personally have only tried Torani so far, as I can’t find the others at my local stores.

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Cooking Bobby Flay Style

What is Bobby Flay style? With apologies to the fashionable, personable TV host and chef, “cooking Bobby Flay style” is what my niece calls cooking from scratch. In the old days, when I was just a wee person, people had to cook from recipes, from ingredients. There were boxed meals that you could buy, but they were expensive, and only the most extravagant of people actually used them on a regular basis. I remember when hamburger helper came out. It was supposed to be such a time saver in the kitchen that everyone would want to use it. Who knew that now, years later, everybody does use that sort of premade, just assemble and eat, meals?
The argument has been made that the obesity epidemic is due to the use of high fructose corn syrup in our diet. 20 years ago, there was very little HFCS. But a lot has changed in 20 years. Not only is there more HFCS in our diet now, but there are also more preservatives, more chemicals and fewer people cooking now than ever before. Then of course, there are video games, three hundred channels on the average TV and the omnipresent internet for kids to play with. I think the obesity epidemic is far more complex than just eliminating HFCS.

I have compiled some of my favorite recipes, which are for cooking Bobby Flay style. Some are healthy, some are indulgent. I hope you enjoy them and consider adding your own.

Baked Oatmeal

Heineman’s Restaurant in Milwaukee had the best baked oatmeal. This recipe is not exactly like theirs, but it’s darn good anyway.

2 cups oats
2 cups milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup dried fruit
1 large Macintosh apple, grated
4 tablespoons maple syrup
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400F. Coat a large casserole dish with cooking spray.
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.
Place mixture in casserole dish and bake uncovered for 45 minutes.
Serve with milk, or Heineman’s style with brown sugar, sliced bananas, and raisins. Personally, I like maple syrup and goat’s milk, when I can get it.

Oatmeal pancakes

6 egg whites, beaten until fluffy
1/2cup cottage cheese
1 scoop whey protein
1/2 cup oatmeal, uncooked
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup flax seed
1 tsp baking powder
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Cooking spray

Place all ingredients except egg whites in food processor and blend until uniform.
Pour into bowl and add egg whites. Fold until just blended.
Prepare a griddle with cooking spray. Ladle mixture onto griddle and cook.
Top with applesauce, or fruit.

Breakfast burrito

2cups egg whites
1/2 cup cottage cheese
1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
1/2 cupchoppedred or green sweet pepper
1/2 cup chopped sweet onion
1/2 cup black beans, rinsed and drained and mashed
4 small Ezekiel tortillas
Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 250f. Place tortillas in oven to warm.
In small bowl whisk egg whites, cottage cheese, salt and pepper.
In medium skillet coated with cooking spray, sauté vegetables and beans until soft. Pour egg/cottage cheese mixture over vegetables and cook until mixture sets. Once firm, divide egg mixture among the warmed tortillas. Rollmeach into a burrito. Add salsa.

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