It’s High Time for Chai!

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I love me some chai.  How about you?  Have you ever tried it?  Chai is a tea-based drink, and when made from scratch is usually made with black or Darjeeling tea.  (Darjeeling is the “champagne” of teas in case you didn’t know.) The spices include cardamom among other spices, which really gives it a distinctive flavor.

I think the first time I tried it was at a little coffee shop in Springfield, Mo (which has since become Panera Bread Company).  I didn’t want coffee that morning (musta been sick!) and the barista suggested a chai.

Oh was that a good idea!

Shop's Fall Tea Collection!

Since then, I’ve had several kinds of chai – from homemade to storebought mixes to specialty brews in a tea or coffee shop.  I don’t remember ever having a bad cup of chai – and it’s something that Roy & I enjoy together.

Roy confessed to me that the first time he bought a carton of chai, he didn’t read the directions and drank the concentrate straight up.  I think that explains at least SOME of the hair on his chest…

We recently bought a concentrate carton while grocery shopping and I just had to have a cup.  I mixed it 50/50 with 2% milk, poured it over ice and added a splash of sugar-free caramel syrup.  Oh my…  That was FUN!  It would make a great holiday punch, in fact, and might be something we enjoy Thanksgiving day!

I have found that I prefer my drinks HOT when I am trying to get myself centered.  It’s soothing to have something warm (almost like a shower, I guess) and helps me find my way out of a fog.  But I’ve also discovered that when I need to be energized, drinking something ICED is the way to go!

You can buy most concentrate cartons in the coffee aisle at grocery stores – and for the price of one cafe-prepared chai, you can get 8 servings (more or less depending on the brand and your strength preference).  You can buy flavored versions – raspberry and chocolate are divine!  But you can also make yours at home to your own taste!

Here are some recipes to make yours at home:

Chai Tea (from Food Network)

Starbucks Chai Tea (a copycat recipe)

Chocolate Chai Tea

Do you like chai?  What’s your favorite flavor?  Is it something you enjoy often or save for special occasions?

New Year’s Morning Cheese Danish

Do you like cheese danish? I LOVE cheese danish! It is something I thoroughly enjoy with a hot cup of morning coffee. This recipe makes a delicious batch of pastries that would just be a perfect way to start your New Year’s celebration with friends and family.

New Year’s Morning Cheese Danish

  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 1/3 cup sugar (or Splenda)
  • 2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 2 tbsp ricotta cheese
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp grated lemon zest (or orange if you don’t have lemons)
  • 1 box puff pastry, defrosted
  • 1 egg + 1 Tbsp water – beaten in bowl
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment or waxed paper.
  2. Cream together the cream cheese and sugar until smooth in a large bowl on low. Add the egg yolks, ricotta cheese, vanilla, salt, and zest and mix until just combined. Do not whip the mixture.
  3. Unfold 1 sheet of puff pastry onto a lightly floured surface. Roll slightly until it is a 10×10 square. Cut into equal fourths. Onto each fourth, place a heaping tablespoon of cheese mixture. Brush the border of each square with egg wash. Fold 2 opposite corners into the center, repeating with the remaining corners. Overlap so they firmly stick together. Brush the tops with egg wash. Place onto prepared cookie sheet. Repeat with remaining pastry and cheese mixture.
  4. Chill for 15-30 minutes.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes. About halfway through, rotate the pan for even baking. Best served while still warm.

What a lovely sweet treat alongside fresh fruit or a few sausage links. YUM!

A-Wassailing We Go

Mmmm – there is something so satisfying about a hot, spicy, tangy drink when it’s cold outside, don’t you think? If you’re where it doesn’t get cold in winter, you might prefer to serve this iced, but for those of us who celebrate Christmas when it’s snowy and dark – a cup of hot Wassail can certainly bring some cheer!

Sometimes Wassail is made with wine, more like a hot spiced wine – but this recipe calls for just juices and spices – and can be made in the crockpot so you can set it on and get everything else made – while enjoying the fantastic scent wafting through your house!

A-Wassailing We Go

  • 3/4 cup sugar (or Splenda)
  • 2 qts apple juice, unsweetened
  • 1 pint cranberry juice
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tsp whole allspice
  • 1 small orange, studded with whole cloves
  • 1 fresh orange, thinly sliced whole, slices then halved
  • cinnamon sticks
  1. Dissolve the sugar in the juices in a 3 quart crockpot by stirring for a few minutes. Add spices and orange. Cook on high for 1 hour. Simmer on low for an additional 4-8 hours.
  2. Serve with fresh slices of orange and a cinnamon stick.

Mmmm – I can smell it now. There’s something about orange and apple and cinnamon together that just smells like HOME! Would you agree?

Thumbelina Cookies

A sweet friend of mine shared this recipe with me a couple of years ago, and it’s one I want to make with my girls this year. I was looking for a good sugar or butter cookie and Donna shared this recipe with me. She noted that her kids (one of them being my sweet friend, Joy) loved these cookies and they don’t require much effort to make!

Thumbelina Cookies

  • 1/2 cup softened butter or margarine
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg yolk, well beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 egg white, unbeaten
  • 1 cup crushed walnuts
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cream together butter and sugar, adding the egg yolk and vanilla. Gradually stir in flour and salt, blending well.
  3. With small scoop, shape into 1″ balls. Dip each ball into the egg white and then roll in nuts. Place on an ungreased baking sheet. Dent the center of each ball with your thumb. Bake 5 minutes.
  4. Remove from oven and re-dent the cookie again. Bake 12-15 minutes longer. Allow to cool completely.
  5. Fill with a tinted and flavored buttercream frosting.

Doesn’t that just sound DIVINE!?! You could easily double this recipe and send it in for your children’s school party – and could even forego the nuts for any allergies. I think you could use finely chopped pistachios or macadamias for a grown-up version, too! Yummy!


Grandma’s Date Cookies

I did not know how much I loved dates until I helped my grandma make these cookies. Of course she let me eat several dates and Oooooh were they sweet and delicious. My mom & I talk a lot about how these cookies remind both of us of my Grandma King – because she would make date cookies at Christmas and we loved them!

Grandma’s Date Cookies

Author: Grandma King
    • FILLING:
    • 1 cup chopped dates
    • 2 Tbsp water
  • 1/4 cup apple juice
  • DOUGH:
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup margarine
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup white flour
  • fat-free milk
  1. Prepare dough ahead of time as it requires chilling for several hours.
  2. Cream brown sugar, margarine and egg white. Stir in both flours and baking powder. Cover and place in refrigerator for 3-5 hours.
  3. When ready to make the cookies, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  4. Roll out the dough to about 1/8″ thickness on a floured surface. Cut 3″ circles (about 36). In half of the circles, cut out a 1″ circle from the center.
  5. Prepare filling by cooking dates, water and apple juice over low heat until dates are broken down and juice is mostly absorbed. Allow to cool.
  6. Place a teaspoon of date filling on full circles, and cover w/cut outs for a top. Brush edges with milk and press together slightly. Bake 12 minutes

These are not as sweet or rich as a lot of other goodies at Christmas, so they are a nice alternative and go perfectly with a cup of tea or coffee!

Grandma’s Christmas Gumdrop Cookies

I can remember finding these jeweled delights on a platter at my Grandma’s house and falling in love. They were so tasty – and the fruity gumdrops were a nice lift among all the rich and gooey treats at Christmas. Be warned – they are ADDICTING – but so worth making!

Grandma’s Christmas Gumdrop Cookies

  • 1 cup softened margarine
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
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Holiday Chocolate Orange Scones {with coffee creamer!}

Chocolate Orange Scones

I pulled out my trusty Holiday Recipes Binder over Thanksgiving weekend. I love flipping through it and rediscovering some family favorite recipes. I also love discovering new recipes that I marked but haven’t yet made. I found a recipe for Cranberry orange scones – but did not have any cranberries. I did, however, have chocolate chips. So I got inspired and made a deliciously twisted version using chocolate and orange – Mmmmmm!
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How to Make Your Own Pumpkin Puree

With more and more people making their own well anything at home, I thought it would be nice to share how to make your own pumpkin puree. Maybe it will seem a little challenging at first, but considering the fact that the price of food at the grocery store these days fluctuates on a regular basis, it might come in pretty handy at some point!

To make pumpkin puree, you can roast it, boil it, microwave it and/or steam it. For this post, we will focus on using the boil method to make pumpkin puree.
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Spinning Plates

You don’t want to see my calendar this week. It has events and appointments every single day! Some of them are great – some of them are just “ehhhh” – and some of them have already passed! I do feel like one of those variety game show contestants spinning plates!

Georgie had her first school program. It was cute – all 3 and 4 year olds acting out Christmas carols and wishing us a boisterous Merry Christmas. =) Georgie was an elf – and her big sister said she was the cutest elf there.
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