Saturday, November 14, 2009

Now In Progress

Fabric for a surprise project, which I cannot divulge at this time (in case the person who will be receiving it is reading this).
Results to be posted once it is done!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Tea Of the Month: Clementine Cranberry Pomegranate Tea


October flew by and it's time for a new tea recipe. This month's tea features the fruits of the season, including clementines, cranberries and pomegranates. Look at these beautiful colors!


This tea would be great for a holiday gathering. This particular recipe makes 2 quarts, but could easily be adjusted to make more.

Clementine, Cranberry and Pomegranate Tea

2 Quarts Water
4 Family Size Luzianne Tea Bags (Lipton or Tetley are other good brands)
1 1/4 Cups Sugar
1/2 Cup cranberries
6 Clementines
1/2 Cup pomegranate juice


1. Add 1 cup sugar to 1 quart water and bring to boil. Remove from heat and add tea bags. Allow to steep for 5 minutes.

2. Juice 5 of the clementines and set juice aside.

3. Juice 1 additional clementine into a sauce pan. Add cranberries and 1/4 Cup sugar to saucepan. Cook over low heat until berries begin to burst. Strain berries and reserve syrup that is left over.

4. Add the tea, clementine juice, cranberry syrup, and 1/2 Cup pomegranate juice to a 2 quart container. Add water until you have 2 quarts. Shake or stir well.

Serve with ice and garnish with cranberries, clementine slices or pomegranate pearls.


Monday, October 26, 2009

One order of sunshine, coming right up!


This month of October has been a rainy and dreary one. Thanks to all the rain, we have had some nice, cool autumn days. Although I haven’t posted in almost a month, it has been a busy month for baking and photo projects. The fall weather has made me want to bake more than ever, so I will have several recipes to share in the coming weeks.

Since the sunshine has left us for the time being, I have found a dessert that is as close to sunshine as you can get without getting your retinas burned. It has a bright, lemony flavor, and uses one of my favorite ingredients, cream cheese. The recipe can be found here, but I added my own lemon twist by adding a fancy little blob of lemon buttercream and lovingly grated lemon zest on top. I can’t leave well enough alone!

Recipe for Lemon Chess Squares (from Proctor Silex website):

1 pkg. (18 oz.) yellow cake mix
1 egg
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, room temperature
1 box (1 lb.) confectioner's sugar
2 eggs
1/4 teaspoon lemon extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a large mixing bowl combine dry cake mix, 1 egg and butter using electric beater. Mix until combined into a dough. Pat dough into ungreased 9x13-inch pan.

With same mixing bowl and same beaters (not necessary to wash), beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth.

Add eggs and extracts, and beat until well blended.

Pour this batter over top of dough in pan.

Bake at 350°F for 45 to 50 minutes. Let cool, then cut into bars.

For Lemon Buttercream:

1 stick softened butter
4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp lemon extract
2 Tbsp. of Lemon Curd (optional) - This can be found in jars in the baking section of your supermarket. I used "Dickinson's" brand.

Whip butter and sugar together. Add extracts and lemon curd. If too thick, you can add milk to thin out. If too thin, add more powdered sugar. I made mine thick enough to pipe with a piping tip.

Garnish with grated lemon zest.

You can also experiment with other cake mixes and extracts/flavorings.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

BooTEAful Thai Tea


I've found the perfect tea for this year's Halloween festivities. This tea is a lovely shade of pumpkin orange, ideal for the autumn season. It's a creamy, vanilla-flavored tea that can be made as sweet or rich as you like it. It is served at any Thai restaurant, but I've also seen it on the menu at a few Vietnamese restaurants. I found my tea mix at a local Asian supermarket. actually carries it if it's not locally available to you.

Here's my recipe:
(Makes 2 servings)

2 Cups Water
1/4 Cup + 1 Tbsp. Sugar
3 Tbsp. Thai Tea mix
Half and Half, Regular Milk, Evaporated Milk, or Sweetened Condensed Milk (to suit your taste)

(You'll also need some way of straining the leaves. I used a tea sock, which is also found at the Asian market ( carries it as well). You could also use some fine cheesecloth or tea towel to strain.)

Add sugar to water and bring to boil to fully dissolve sugar. Once water comes to a boil, remove from heat and add the tea mixture. Allow tea to steep for 3 - 5 minutes.
Strain leaves with the tea sock (pictured here). Add ice and milk or cream to taste.

Photos above show Thai tea mix and the tea sock used to strain the tea particles from water.

Photos above show the tea sock in action. After tea leaves are removed, tea is ready to pour into a tall glass filled with ice.


Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Fried What?!?!


It's State Fair time again here in Texas. When the State Fair rolls around, Texans know that fall has arrived, especially since the change in seasons is not as obvious as in some parts of the country.

My parents were in for a visit and had never been to this State Fair, so we decided to take part in opening day. We were on the quest for the newest fried food concoction: Fried Butter!!! Cardiologists around Texas are rejoicing! I can feel my arteries clogging as I type this.


Fried Butter is difficult to describe, but it closely resembles a small round biscuit/doughnut with a bit of melted buttery goodness in the center; ours was covered in grape jelly, but there are other flavor options: Original, Cherry, or Garlic.

I'm left to wonder what fried treat we will see at next year's Fair...

Monday, August 31, 2009

I "CLOVE" Chai Tea

Over the weekend, the temperature here dipped below 90 degrees. There is an unmistakable nip in the air that tells me that fall is just around the corner. Ok, maybe I'm jumping the gun-- here in Texas, we're still several weeks out, but I'm looking forward to the cool temperatures that will surely come in a month or two. I am reminded of the autumn spices used in Halloween and Thanksgiving baked goodies. Many of these same spices can be found in Chai tea, which is a cozy blend of cinnamon, cloves, ginger, cardamom, star anise, pepper, and, of course, tea leaves.

Give Chai a try:

2 Tazo Organic Chai tea bags
3 teaspoons sugar (adjust to taste)
1/2 cup water

Boil 1/2 cup of water (add sugar to water before boiling to get the sugar to dissolve into a nice simple syrup); Once water boils, remove from heat and add your tea bags. Let the tea steep for 5 minutes. Pour into a tall glass full of ice. Depending on the size of your glass, the water will come about halfway up. Fill the rest of the glass with milk. Sprinkle with cinnamon and stir.

Serves 1.

For a richer flavor, use whole milk, half and half, or sweetened condensed milk.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Cooking Without Heat: Ceviche


We had our first taste of ceviche on our honeymoon in Costa Rica. Ceviche, which is a common dish there, is made up of fresh fish and a mixture of tomatoes, cilantro, onions, peppers and lime juice. The fish is actually cooked in the lime juice marinade. It is commonly served with crackers and Lizano tabasco sauce. I would describe it as "Summertime on a cracker"; the combination of the tangy lime juice and vegetables with the texture of the fish is delightful.

Upon returning home from our trip that summer, Chris made it his project to recreate this tasty dish using fish he'd caught at a local lake. Thankfully, he loves to fish, so fresh fish is usually on hand at our home. Each time he makes it, the taste brings back memories from our Costa Rican adventures. You can have a taste of Costa Rica too:

Fresh Fish Fillets (half of quart size ziptop bag full)
1 Small Sweet Yellow Onion
3 Tomatoes
15 sprigs Cilantro
2 Jalapeno Peppers
1 Green Bell Pepper
Juice from 3 Limes

1. Dice / Finely chop the onions, tomatoes and peppers. Remove the stems from the cilantro; keep the leaves. You can roll the leaves up to make chopping easier. Slice the fish fillets into thin slices (approx. 1/8" thick.)


2. Marinate the ingredients. We use a quart size ziptop bag for the fish and a large gallon size bag for the rest of the chopped vegetables. Add a dash of salt and pepper to the bag of fish and then add about 3/4 of the lime juice to that bag. Add the remaining lime juice to the bag of vegetables.
Allow to marinate in the refrigerator for at least an hour.


3. After the fish has "cooked", it will turn white. It's ready to combine with the bag of veggies. You can combine all ingredients together in the large ziptop bag and keep in the fridge until ready to serve.


The dish is best when served the day it is made. Keep chilled and serve cold with saltines; kick it up with a dash of the hot sauce of your choice.


Sunday, August 23, 2009

Bowl O' Goodness: Swiss Oatmeal


My friend and I recently discovered the Swiss Oatmeal at the Corner Bakery. It is a yummy bowl of goodness and we don't feel guilty walking away with a full belly of this stuff. This meal will help you meet your fruit, whole grain, and dairy requirements for the day. I find myself craving this sometimes, so I was wondering how hard it would be to make it at home, since it is served chilled and I don't have that much time in the mornings to be waiting for warm oatmeal to "chill". As it turns out, it is easy to make, and the bulk of it can be made the night before. Just mix the oats together with some yogurt and milk and leave it in the fridge overnight, with no cooking needed. I feared it would be a soggy mess the first time I tried it, but it wasn't!

I found this recipe online. But then, I modified it to suit my tastes.

Here's my version:
1 Cup Bob's Red Mill Muesli
1 Cup rolled oats (I bought mine in bulk)
3/4 Cup skim milk
Half of 6 oz. container of vanilla yogurt
Handful of trail mix (containing dried raisins, cherries, cranberries, walnuts and almonds)
1 small green apple
1 small banana

The night (or a few hours) before serving, mix the muesli, oats, yogurt and milk together. Cover and put in fridge. After oatmeal has chilled, add the chopped apples, banana and chopped trail mix to the bowl and serve. This recipe makes 2 large servings.

Variations could include adding cinnamon, nutmeg or brown sugar or using different fruits or yogurt flavors.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Sunny Sunday

This year, I have been loving the sunflowers that grow wild along the roadside. There seem to be more than ever this summer, maybe due to all the rain we had in the spring. I've captured a few with my camera and thought it would be fun to have prints made and put together some homemade greeting cards.

I also had the idea that for any future flower bouquets given as gifts, I could put a photo of the flowers with it, so that after the flowers fade, the recipient would have a small memento of the bouquet.

Monday, August 3, 2009

A Shot in the Dark

A week ago, I spotted a carnival in a local mall parking lot as I was driving down the freeway. I mentioned to the hubby that it would be a great place for some night photos. I made a mental note to go there the following weekend if I had the chance. The next day (Monday), I was at work and got an email from a friend entitled "Photos From my First Night Shoot". Like me, she's had her camera for about 5 months, and we occasionally trade photos to compare notes. I opened the email and saw pictures from the same carnival I had seen the night before. She'd beat me to it!!! She said she'd like to go again and we agreed to meet on Saturday night, since the hubby would be fishing an all-night tournament and I was free to do my thing. We met at 8 PM, just before sundown. We managed to get some great shots as the sun was setting and the sky lit up to a beautiful pink/purple. This was truly the magic hour for light. The sky then faded to a dark blue, then black in a matter of minutes. It seems we weren't the only ones with this idea as there were several other people there with tripods and big lenses. The state fair is coming to town in a couple of months, so you can bet I'll be there. Check out these other photos I got that night (I've included exposures as they happened):

Shutter: .3 sec
Aperture: F/10
ISO: 100
Focal Length: 24 mm

Shutter: 1 sec
Aperture: F/4
ISO: 100
Focal Length: 18 mm

Shutter: 1/15 sec
Aperture: F/4
ISO: 800
Focal Length: 24 mm

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Berry TasTEA


I concocted this recipe this afternoon for the "grand opening" of this new blog, which will hopefully be the first of many "tea of the month" recipes. Anyone who knows me well will know of my love for sweet iced tea. By making this recipe, I'm straying from my tried-and-true Lipton/sugar water recipe, but I think you'll find it refreshing.

Berry TasTEA (my brother will appreciate this play on words)

1 Tazo Tea Bag ("Berryblossom White" flavor)
Handful (10-15) Raspberries / Blueberries
3/4 Cups Water
4 Tbsp. Sugar


1. Put a handful of blueberries and raspberries into a small sauce pan. Add to that 2 Tbsp. of sugar and 1/4 cup water. Mash berries with a wooden spoon and bring to a boil, while stirring continually (this will take between 5-10 minutes).

2. Remove pot from heat and strain mixture to remove the seeds (I used a tea ball, but a fine sieve or cheesecloth would work, too). The berry juice that is left will go into the tea. The remaining berry mixture would make a great sweet topping for ice cream!

3. Get your tea bag ready! The box shown contains 20 tea bags. I found this tea at Sprouts, but Target and Starbucks also carry it.

4. Boil 1/2 cup water with 2 Tbsp. sugar to make a simple syrup. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and add tea bag. Allow to steep for 5 minutes.

In a tall glass filled with ice, add tea and berry juice and stir thoroughly. You may want to add a little more cold water to the glass if the mixture doesn't come to the top (depending on the size of your glass). Don't water it down too much, though, because then you'll need to add more sugar. Garnish with more berries, if desired.

This recipe serves 1, but batch can be doubled as needed to serve more.

Grand Opening

This is my new little corner to share some things I've come to enjoy -- the simple pleasures in life like cooking, crafting, travel and capturing memories through photos.