Category Archives: Drinks

DIY #2: Holiday Gifts in a Jar

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I can finally say: I have ALL my holiday shopping DONE! This is a huge deal. I’m usually the one scrambling around trying to figure out what to get everyone, while everyone else seems to have me pegged pretty well. Apparently the exact opposite is happening this year. I have gifts for everyone, and my sister and REB are having a hard time figuring out what to get me.

I made a list for them, but it was seriously things I wanted for the house, that I would prefer to buy myself.  I realize how lame that is, but what I honestly want are two things that are way out of any normal person’s price range and I would prefer to get them myself: upgrade my DSLR and buy a new Macbook Pro. There’s no way I expect anyone to get me these items. They’re on my list to do before I’m 30 ;)

However, for those of you who follow me on Instagram have probably seen the posts about what I’m doing for REB: the 12 days of Christmas! This is the first year in the 7 years we’ve been together that I finally can surprise him and not just get something he knows he wants or is getting. Usually when we play the “what do you want for Christmas” game, we say what we want, then we go out together and buy it for each other. It’s pretty lame. The element of surprise isn’t there, but it’s worked! But this year, I got him! I do plan to do a post about all 12 days when all is said and done!

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So, the point of his post? If you’re like me, and want to include a homemade, personal gift in addition to a materialistic gift, then why not a gift of yummies in a jar? I don’t know about all of you, but I love hot chocolate, especially in the winter. I’m also on an incredible peppermint/candy cane kick, so I had to throw those in there too.

Bottom line: it’s quick, easy and face it, it looks cute.

Peppermint Hot Cocoa
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
All the ingredients needed for peppermint hot cocoa in the convenience of a jar. Perfect DIY gift for this holiday season. Recipe adapted from Tisano cacao, tea & chocolate.
Author:
Recipe type: DIY, Jar, drinks
Cuisine: drinks
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • 1 cup Instant dry milk powder
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips (or regular size)
  • ¼ cup white chocolate chips (optional)
  • ¼ crushed candy cane pieces
Instructions
  1. Layer all items in a jar, starting with the dry milk, ending with candy canes.
  2. To prepare:
  3. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Measure ⅓ cup into a cup. Stir in 1 cup boiling water, and enjoy!
  4. Put remaining mix back in jar, seal tight and save for next time!
  5. Recipe adapted from Tisano cacao, tea & chocolate

Missing My Sister

 

Hello hello!!

Let me ask you all this: how far away do you live from your families? Are there days that you just miss something your mom, dad, aunt, uncle, grandparents or any relative makes and you crave it? I don’t live that far away from my parents. I live only an hour southeast from them, which is perfect since we can go visit them whenever we want, or they can come here.

My sister Shar lives in Chicago which isn’t even that far away, but I don’t see her nearly enough. I see her maybe two or three times a year and that stinks because I used to see her a lot more than that. She’s my best friend and she’s one of the craziest, silliest, kindest, most inspiring women in my life (other than mi madre of course). I’m excited because I’m flying out to Chicago in a few weeks to see her!! For whatever reason, I really wanted a mango lassi. And she makes the most amazing lassis!

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However, I couldn’t get a hold of her to get her recipe, so I tried making it from memory. What’s weird is I have a visual memory of a weekend morning when she made it for me in her kitchen and I can still picture what she put into the blender. Is that weird? Haha. I decided to try to make a healthy version with Greek yogurt, Silk Light and no sugar. You heard me right. No sugar. I didn’t need it though. The mango was way sweet enough!

Mango Lassi

•1 1/2 cups mango pulp (about 15 oz.)
•1/2 cup nonfat Greek yogurt (I used Fage Total 0%)
•1/2 cup Silk Light (low fat soy milk) or regular milk is fine
•1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
•1/4 teaspoon rose water (about half a cap full) – optional

I used half a 30 oz. can of Kesar brand mango pulp. Don’t let that price shock you. I did NOT spend that much at the Indian grocery store. I spent $1.99. However, you can also use the Looza brand mango nectar if you can find pulp. Also don’t be scared by the rose water ingredient. It is totally optional. It’s a pretty exotic ingredient in my opinion and I’ve only been able to find it in Indian grocery stores. You don’t need a lot to get the pretty perfume-y scent/taste in what ever you are making. My mom uses it in her gulab jaman syrup. I just adds a little something. But like I said, it’s totally optional. The lassi will taste just as delicious without it.

Method

Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend! Pour into glasses and enjoy. Not that hard is it ;)
Optional ingredients: Splenda or sugar if you need more sweetness, other fruits like bananas or pineapple and of course my new favorite thing: chia seeds!

This recipe should make about 2 cups of lassi. The best part? It was only 185 calories per serving. So perfect and the addition of using Greek yogurt vs. regular nonfat yogurt upped the protein and the Silk light kept it low fat. Yeah, this recipe is a keeper. It might not be like Shar’s, but it still reminded me of being a total nerd with her in her kitchen that Saturday morning :) Can’t wait to see her soon! Oh and I’ll also get to meet Diana from Veggie Next Door while I’m out there! I seriously, seriously can’t wait!

What are things your family member makes that you miss eating?
How often do you get to see your family?

Tea time

 

Hi everyone!

I hope everyone is having a fabulous weekend! I had one of those weekends where I wanted drinks. And not just alcoholic! It started with chai. I’ve made chai before and I even have a recipe here on the blog about it, but I always try to find a way to make it differently.

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There are so many varieties of chai! But the one common ingredient with all of them is cardamom. It’s an incredibly smokey, warm spice that comes in a little pod. It’s a really great ingredient, but it also can be kind of expensive. The key is to buy it at your Indian grocery store because it will probably be cheaper to buy there (in a pretty good-sized bag too) than at your local grocery store Protip: get ALL Indian spices from an Indian store. Buying bags of turmeric, cumin, coriander, etc. is so much cheaper and runs about $2.99 a bag as opposed to $6.99 for a tiny jar in the world foods or spices aisle.

Anyway back to the chai! So this time I decided to try something different when making it.

I decided to roast the cardamom! It’s not anything new, I’m sure. it’s just something I haven’t done before. I figured, I dry roast all the spices for garam masala when I make it, so why not the cardamom for the chai?

It worked beautifully and added an extra warm taste…if that makes sense…? I’m glad I gave it a try. I have both cardamom in and out of the pod, but I find myself using the in-pod when I make the chai. Having the skin while you roast helps release the natural oils and it also intensifies the flavor of the cardamom. Roasting it only takes it up to that next level!

Chai for One

•1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
•1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom (dry roasted)
•3 cardamom pods (dry roasted)
•1 cinnamon stick, broken into pieces
•1/2 teaspoon whole black cloves
•1 1/2 cups water
•Milk and sugar to taste
•1-2 teabags of Darjeeling or English black tea (you could also use loose tea leaves)

Method

Start roasting the cardamom in a dry pan over low heat for 5-10 minutes. The cardamom is done when they’re lightly toasted and you can literally smell it. In the mean time heat up the water in a small pan and bring to bring to simmer. Add the tea bags and spice mixture and let it steep and mull for 10-15 minutes. When the water has turned to a beautiful dark color, take it off the heat and pour it through a strainer, into a cup. Add milk and sugar to taste and enjoy!

It’s so easy to make that you won’t need to spend the $4 at your local coffee shop. I find those to be too sweet for my tastes and it doesn’t taste like home, either! Give this a try – I know you’ll love it!

So tell me: do you like teas and coffee from other countries?
What’s your favorite?

 

How To Make Chai

Having the sniffles, stinks.

I woke up this morning feeling as if I’d swallowed a softball. Blech. My nose was pretty stuffy and my sinuses ached. I stayed home from work and did nothing all day.

Then it occurred to me: What is the one thing that could make me feel better? My mom’s Chai.

Well, my mom lives an hour away and I needed the Chai right then and there.

So I made some. And it was amazing. Chai is the traditional spice tea that people in India drink almost every day instead of having coffee. It’s delicious and so easy to make at home.

And now I’ll tell you how to make it at home, too.

My moms Chai is the cure for the common cold. I’m not kidding. It’s spicy so it clears up your sinuses, it’s hot so it soothes and it makes you sleepy so you’ll rest.

If I don’t fall asleep halfway through writing this entry, please applaud me.

Here’s what you’ll need for 1 serving of Chai (I’ll explain each ingredient after):
•Black Cloves
•Cardamom (in the pod)
•Cinnamon stick
•Black peppercorn
•2 tea bags


I use a British tea, often referred to as Darjaleeng, which is what you see above. It’s the most common type of tea used. You can use loose-leaf tea if you want, but tea bags are much easier (and easier to dispose).


There are probably like 5-8 whole black peppercorns in there. Now, this ingredient is totally optional. In fact, my mom told me she only uses peppercorns when she’s sick since the spice and heat from the pepper helps clear the sinuses. So obviously, I used some today.


5-6 pieces of cardamom, in the pod.


Cardamom is a staple ingredient in Chai. If you don’t have any of the other ingredients, this is the one you should have if you want to make Chai, or garam masala. It’s spicy, sweet and smokey. I love it! Now, a lot of people will wonder why you need the pods because if you open the pod, you get cardamom seeds that look black like what I used when I made garam masala. I use the pods because I like the flavor even from the skin so it’s not just the seeds that help create the distinct flavor of Chai.


Cinnamon stick. Powder won’t cut it. This adds another spicy-sweet flavor. A “mulling” spice, if you will.


You need a pinch of whole black cloves. This adds a SUPER intense smokey flavor that I just love.

Let’s make some Chai! Because I’m still surprised I’m awake…

You’ll need a mortar and pestle. If you don’t have one, they aren’t expensive to buy. You could grind everything up in a grinder, but I don’t think having a powder works quite as well.


I’ve mentioned before how much I love mine. It was a wonderful gift from my parents and a perfect use for making Chai.


Since I made Chai only for myself, this is 1 1/2 cups of water I put into a sauce pan to heat. Let the water get a little hot before you add in the tea.

So while that’s happening, you can make your Chai mixture.


Break up the cinnamon either with your hands or with the pestle (the “bat” used to crush things)


Place all the ingredients into the mortar and pestle and go to town to crush it all up!



This is what you end up with. I inhaled this mixture about a million times, and that alone made me feel a ton better. All the oils were released and it smelled so wonderful.



When the water is hot (not boiling), add in the tea bags and stir. Let it steep for 5-10 minutes.


It’ll turn a lovely mahogany color as it’s steeping. Soooo pretty!

Add in the Chai mix to the water and tea bags. Let it heat through another 5 minutes or so and stir well. As you do, you’ll really smell the Chai and your nose will grow impatient.


When it’s all done, pour the tea into a measuring cup. This will make for easy pouring into your cup.


Using a strainer, pour the tea into your cup.


The strainer will catch all the tea mixture, but leave the great intense flavor in your cup.


Traditionally, Chai is served with milk and sugar. It’s how I’ve always had it growing up, so having tea just straight black, tastes horrible to me.


You really only want enough milk to turn the Chai into a beautiful chestnut color. You’ll need to add quite a bit of sugar to help sweeten it. If you don’t, it’ll be REALLY strong. I mean, I guess you could leave it that way, but I like it sweet.

So there you go! It’s definitely not hard to make your own Chai and beats what ever they serve you at your local coffee shop because that’s almost always pre-made. That’s definitely not my BAG. Heh heh. Sorry, the puns are thanks to the cold. Although, my sniffles have reduced a ton thanks to this tea. I’m not kidding: cure for the common cold. Well, at least I like to think so.