Sunday, August 29, 2010

A Cuppa Chai

A few weeks ago we visited my brother and his family in Bellingham, and prior to departure, I conferred with Mary-Claire about food. I had a lot of egg yolks left over from the birthday cake's Swiss Meringue Buttercream, and planned to make Ginger Creme Brulee. And, M-C planned something equally divine to do with the rest of my fresh ginger (and a bunch of her own spices and tea). This chai tea was a big hit because Joel is not a coffee fan, and the kids adore chai.

I (of course) altered the recipe a bit (had to add star anise, which makes chai for me!), but here it is! I also did crazy things like emptying out a bag of tea (dry) and then adding ground cloves and cardamom (the only kind I had on hand) to the bag and re-stapling... hey, whatever works!

Easy Chai Tea
(adapted from Real Simple magazine)

8 cardamom seeds

8 cloves

4 black peppercorns

3 cinnamon sticks

2 - 1-inch pieces fresh ginger, sliced

2 star anise pods

2 cups whole milk

2 cups water

6 bags black tea (Darjeeling or other)

sugar to taste

Crush the spices, then place in saucepan with milk and water and bring to boil. Remove from heat and steep for 10 minutes. Strain into 4 cups and add about 2 tsps. sugar or agave to taste to each (or let your guests sweeten their own).

Monday, August 9, 2010

A Very Merry Year: August

So, instead of going crazy with holiday baking last year, I decided that it would be much more fun to spread the joy out over the year and gift someone each month with something lovely from my kitchen.

This month was a double-header...

We have a little buddy named Alexandria who loves to hang out with the kids, most especially with Madeline, and whenever "tea party" or "restaurant" or anything related is played, she's all about "Lemon Cookies," so I had to make some lemon cookies for the little sweetheart. I found a promising recipe on the Weight Watchers site, and it's great — really lemony, a little sweet and soft. They're called Lemon Cookie Snaps, and I modified the recipe by adding at least 2 Tablespoons of lemon zest, since I had a very large lemon, and nonfat Greek yogurt instead of light sour cream. Extra zing is always a good thing!
Alex's Tea Party Lemon Cookies
(adapted from Lemon Cookie Snaps recips on
1 1/2 c. flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 c. butter, softened
1 c. sugar
2 large egg yolk(s)
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp (or more) lemon zest, finely chopped
1/4 cup(s) reduced-fat sour cream, or nonfat Greek Yogurt which is what I used

Mix dry ingredients, set aside. Cream sugar and butter, then add egg yolks, lemon juice and zest. Combine well. Finally add Greek Yogurt OR sour cream and mix. Add flour mixture, mix and then scrape onto plastic wrap. Fridge for 2 hours up to 24, or pop in the freezer for 30 mins. or so. Tear off 1 Tbs. pieces, roll into balls and flatten with fork (in a criss-cross pattern) dipped in sugar on two parchment-lined baking sheets. Should make about 30 cookies — 2 cookies are a serving at 3 POINTS total.

And, second, our friend Miki had baby Rhys on July 21st, so among other baked and dinner treats that we delivered to her family last week, we also made a couple dozen of The Pioneer Woman's Oatmeal Crispies for Miki. Oatmeal is good for milk production, and a nursing Mama needs to be able to eat said oatmeal with one hand... hence, cookies!!

Friday, August 6, 2010


When I was a kid, we had "Pickies" pretty often for lunch. This meal consisted of whatever fruits and veggies, protein, etc. that mom had on hand, cut into pieces, and served with toothpicks (hence the name "Pickies"). Nick and I loved it because we could choose what we wanted, and because we got to use picks to eat with.

Yesterday, we shared this plate of Pickies - baby carrots, Miso blocks (baked Thai tofu cubes), halved black grapes, plum tomatoes and cubes of mozzarella. Oh, and Madeline picked fresh mint for a garnish. It was lovely.

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