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.