July 29, 2010

Tea Time

During the cooler weather, or for some reason while killing zombies in Left 4 Dead 2 (I don't know why they go together) I can normally be found drinking a nice hot cup of tea. I thought I would post what my favorites are and maybe you guys can share your favorites with me (of course I think only my mom really looks at this and comments, so whatever :)) I find I am pretty picky about my tea, it has to have subtle flavor and be light and not overpowering. So here are some of my favorites!

My favorite tea at the moment is Bigelow Jasmine Green tea. I think I have always loved jasmine tea. Slightly floral but not over powering. And this tea is nice and light and makes me feel comfy cozy.

I haven't really tried any other Bigelow flavors but they have tons listed on their website and in stores. I think I am just picky and fearful of buying a tea I won't like and then being stuck with a whole box. But this Jasmine Green Tea doesn't disappoint!

My second favorite, if I am totally out of the Jasmine is Tazo Berry Blossom White. This tea is marvelous! It is a really light tasting tea and it has hints of blueberry and cranberry flavors. It is great!

I like the white tea, because of its light flavor and it not too overwhelmingly herbal. I enjoy herbal teas, but sometimes they can be over powering. This is tea is light and refreshing and great on a nice winter day, or night! Just the scent of the tea when you open up the tea bag brings you images of spring and gets your through the cold snow and blustery winds.

Another tea I used to drink when I would get migraines and headaches was Lipton Quietly Chamomile. This tea has a stronger flavor and is very floral and turns a lovely purplish color in your mug.
I don't drink this one too much anymore, unless I am totally out of any other teas. It does have quite a strong flavor and scent, but it did help my headaches a couple times, so I can't be mad at it. :)

If you enjoy a nice relaxing, decaffeinated tea, then this would be a nice choice. This tea has flavors of floral chamomile and hibiscus flower, which I think is a nice touch of flavor.

I recently tried a new Tazo tea and I am a little underwhelmed by it. I guess cause I read the description of it on the website and got kinda excited cause it sounded delicious, but I was a little disappointed. It said it should have had hints of peach and melon, I got none of that, it's ok. I drink it when I really have nothing else around, cause I have a whole box that I don't want wasted.

By the way, check out the Tazo website, its so fun and the have an application where you can get your tea leaves read, its ridiculous but fun! I just love the yogi guy they use, he is fun! :)

One of my favorite tea experiences so far has been going to the L'Amyx Tea Bar in Oakland, CA.

So many different kinds of loose teas to choose from and you got your own little cast iron tea pot and handmade pottery cup! Such extreme fun for me! I love that kind of stuff...it makes me happy :)
I had the Jasmine Dragon Pearls Green Tea and I think it was epic. I should really order some...but it's kinda pricey for my taste.

I've had my share of not so good teas, but thankfully most of them have been tried at a friends house, which is a good way to taste teas without having to buy a whole box and be disappointed. I find Celestial Seasonings to be pretty hit or miss with me. I don't like the Chamomile tea but the Country Peach Passion was good if you don't let the tea bag sit in too long, otherwise it gets too sweet and then I can't really drink it. That's the other thing, I never add anything to my tea. No honey, no sugar, just natural and delicious, the way I think it should be.

For me tea is relaxing and soothing and can really be a cure-all sometimes, depending on how you are feeling that day. Tea is great for colds and sore throats. It can help with headaches and muscle tension, it just relaxes you and makes you feel good. And how could something so natural, completely made from herbs and plants be bad?!

Well, I am gonna go refill my tea and I hope maybe I gave you some new teas to try out and maybe you can suggest some to me!

Eat, Drink and Be Merry...and have tea party!


July 24, 2010

Recommended Reading: Go Ask Alice

I stumble upon new books to read either by recommendations from friends or while browsing on Goodreads, or sometimes even from the back of current books I am reading they will list books that are similar to what you are reading, from teh same author or something from the same publishing company. That is how I found Go Ask Alice.

I will have a short review for a short book. Its only 224 pages but its full of emotion and tale of a young girl taken down the wrong path. I really enjoyed that this book was based off the actual diary of a young 15 year old girl. I like the intimate reading, like you stumbled upon someone's diary and you read into their everyday life. How real and raw it is. Every emotion they were feeling at certain points in their life, their real, true emotions. And you feel those emotions with the character, the real girl. You feel anguish and happiness, and sadness and despair. The epilogue really got me. How much this young girl went through in, what seemed like such a short amount of time. It is really amazing.

Happy Reading :)


July 21, 2010

Snickerdoodle Blondies

I had my eldest brother and fam. coming over for dinner and I saw this recipe posted from Brown Eyed Baker (who adapted it from My Baking Addiction) and knew I had to make them for my dinner guests. I was glad I was having dinner guests cause I really wanted an excuse to make this blondies and not have a whole pan of them to myself and Hubsie...we don't need that!

These bars were really easy to make and didn't take any time at all. I was making them while my hands were burning from handling some jalepenos, so they were easy enough I could make them while in pain...*sigh*

Snickerdoodle Blondies
(original by Brown Eyed Baker here.)

2-2/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup (8 oz.) butter, at room temperature
2 eggs
1 T vanilla extract2 T granulated sugar
2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease your 9x13-inch baking pan; set aside.

2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in a medium bowl; set aside.

3. Beat together butter, brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, and then the vanilla. Beat, scraping the bowl, until thoroughly combined. On low speed, gradually add the flour mixture until just combined. Give the dough a final stir in rubber spatula or wooden spoon to make sure flour is incorporated.

4. Spread dough evenly in your prepared pan. Batter will be think an off-set spatula works great here. Combine the granulated sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and sprinkle evenly over the top of the batter.

5. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the top springs back when pressed (I checked with a toothpick. Inserting it and seeing if it came out clean.) Cool completely before cutting. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Crunchy Cinnamon-y Sugary Tops :)

These were freaking delicious!! I think I totally forgot to add baking powder...but they were fine! The had a nice sweetness and went great with a nice hot cup of jasmine green tea. I love the density they had, but that could be because I forgot the baking powder...hahah :) I'm a "middle piece" kinda girl, but I had an end piece and it was equally delicious. It had great flavor and a nice crunchy top from the cinnamon sugar...I will definitely make these again! Oh and my 3 year-old nephew devoured his! He is pretty picky so that is a big feat!! Auntie did a good job!

Avan hugs for Auntie

Eat, Drink and Be Merry...and check out some great food blogs for recipes!


Black Bean & Corn Salsa

The other night we went to one of my Hubsie's co-worker's house for a cook-out. They had made this great black bean corn salsa and it was delicious. My eldest brother was coming in town with my sis-in-law and nephew and I thought I would make a nice fresh salsa for an app. since they were coming for dinner.

I had a recipe years ago for a similar salsa but I can't find it anywhere and my mom doesn't have it either, so I had to search for a new one. I found this really easy and delicious recipe from One Sweet Life's blog. I altered mine slightly with what I had on hand.

Black Bean & Corn Salsa
(for original recipe click here.)

1/2 vidalia sweet onion, chopped
1 can whole kernel corn, drained
1 1/2 jalepeno peppers, seeded and chopped small
3 vine ripe tomatoes, chopped, with seed centers removed
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1 can whole black beans, drained and rinsed
Juice from 1/2 lime, or whole depending on your taste
Salt, to taste
Tortilla chips for serving

The makings of a delicious salsa.
How could any of this be bad?!

Empty can of corn into a large bowl. Finely chop the onion and chop tomatoes into small pieces. Chop jalepenos, removing ribs and seeds. Drain and rinse black beans and finely mince up 2 T to a 1/4 cup of cilantro, depending on how much you enjoy the cilantro flavor. Place all ingredients into the bowl with the corn. Squeeze juice from 1/2 a lime over the mixture. Mix well until blended and taste for seasoning. Add salt if you feel it necessary and more lime juice if you like. Refrigerate a few hours before serving or overnight to allow flavors to mingle.

I served mine with some natural multigrain tortilla chips. They were great cause they seemed extra crunchy and the right amount of salt. I do also enjoy the blue corn chips, but you can get what you like. I think I would have enjoyed more tomatoes or something, I felt something missing...maybe if it were juicier. I don't know. But it was still great and kinda refreshing!

Delicious Black Bean and Corn Salsa...mmmmm:)

Cautionary Tale:

Be very careful when cutting and working with hot peppers!! Even wear gloves. If you suspect you may have an unpleasant experience with handling hot peppers, than take those precautions and wear gloves while working with them.

After I had made this salsa I must have touched my forehead cause all of a sudden my head started burning in one spot and it was red. And in between my fingers on my right hand were burning. I kinda started freaking out. I tried googling things I could do to stop the burning. I called my mom and she told me to try milk, while she was laughing at me on the phone...thanks Ma. So I dabbed milk on my forehead with a cotton ball and it helped, but not on my fingers. It was just in between my ring and middle finger and then it spread and it was excruciating after a while.

I honestly called my Hubs at work and started crying cause I was freaking myself out....*sigh* I know...sad. Anyway, so he came home and by that time I had tried soaking my hand in milk, running cold water, pouring alcohol to remove the oils, baking soda paste...nothing was helping. Finally soaking my hands in ice water was helping, unless I took my hands out.

So then my Hubsie remembered we had ice packs in the freezer so I held onto an ice pack for hours and it really helped, then I put some chilled aloe gel on and then it finally went away. But it was horrible...next time I will definitely wear gloves...it was ridiculous.


Eat, Drink and Be Merry!!...and wear gloves when handling hot peppers!


July 7, 2010

Pork & Mushroom Turnovers

I had to go grocery shopping today and not really knowing what I would be making for dinner for the week I started looking through my recipes I have compiled. I came across the recipe I found for Mushroom Turnovers with Spinach Salad from the Everyday with Rachael Ray Magazine. I have actually made this recipe before and thought it was great. But I remember when I made it last time that I knew I wanted to change it up a bit, and that's what I did this time.

Pork and Mushroom Turnovers
(find the original recipe here.)

2-3 T Olive Oil
1 pound crimini mushrooms, quarteredSalt and Pepper1 boneless pork chop
One 8 oz. package of cream cheese, cut into small pieces
One 17.3 oz. package puff pastry, thawed
1 large egg, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 425.

In a small skillet heat olive oil to medium-high heat. Season up pork chop with salt, pepper, garlic powder, chili powder and a light sprinkle of cumin. Brown the pork chop on both sides until nice and crispy and almost cooked through. Set aside. Once cooled cut into thin strips.

In a medium skillet heat olive oil and saute the mushrooms. Season with salt, pepper and red pepper flake. Cook until softened slightly and remove and place in a bowl. Add the cream cheese and season with salt, pepper and parsley. Mix together until cream cheese softens.

On lightly floured surface, roll out one puff pastry sheet to an 11-inch square and cut in half. Repeat with the other puff pastry sheet. Arrange one quarter of the filling crosswise on one-half of each piece of pastry, leaving a 1/2 inch border. Top each mound of filling with a few strips of the cooked pork.

Brush the border with egg and then fold over the pastry to enclose filling. Cut 2 vents on the top of each turnover and crimp the edges, transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush the tops with egg wash. Bake until golden brown and flaky, about 15 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes.

Hot and golden brown out of the oven

This recipe is super easy and kinda fancy. I really enjoy making this cause I feel like I am making something that you could easily entertain with but it also night for a weeknight meal with the Hubs. I think next time I would use less cream cheese, it just seems like too, too much. I might even just go with half of the cream cheese.

Pork and Mushroom Turnovers with
a Spring Mix Salad

I hope you guys try this one out! It's super delicious and light, yet filling! Enjoy!

Eat, Drink and Be Merry...and make something special for dinner!