Sunday, December 30, 2012

A tea to warm the soul: Yorkshire Gold Tea with Ginger

The rush of Christmas is over and I'm finally able to settle in to get a few things done around the house. I've been puttering around at a slower pace, thanks to a long, 4-day weekend. I love these little stretches of vacation time between work days, first for Christmas and now for New Years. It allows time to rest and rejuvenate and get my creative juices flowing. I've been stationed at my laptop for a couple of days now, finishing up my December Daily photo book. My Mom and I did one last year and carried on the tradition for this year. We each documented our daily activities from December 1 through December 25 and exchanged the books when we were done (we made a copy to keep and a copy to share). I had gotten the idea from a couple of bloggers, Ali Edwards and Cathy Zielske, who fall into the category of "extreme scrapbookers". Check out their blogs if you're into scrapbooking or memory keeping. They are guaranteed to inspire. This year, I've created mine using Shutterfly. I find that it's a quick and convenient way of putting photos together into an attractive book. Last year, I went the old-fashioned, cut-and-paste route with scrapbook paper, rubber stamps and printed photos. It was very time-consuming and I knew that if I wanted to do it again this year in a timely manner, I would need to find a faster way for my sanity's sake. Behold, I bring you Christmas 2012:


Thanks to a rare Christmas Day snow, I was able to capture the perfect photos for the cover:
These photos make me shiver just looking at them. Since it's been colder, I've been making more hot tea, which brings me to the point of this post -- Yorkshire Gold tea:
Yorkshire Gold
A friend introduced me to this tea a couple of years ago and it's really great on its own. It is a nice and bold black tea. However, I had some candied ginger, so I chopped some and added it to the tea to provide a little more warmth and some little bits to nibble on after the tea is gone. I love the candied ginger, with its sweet and spicy bite.
Candied Ginger
Gold Ginger Tea Cup
This tea really warms the soul.
Gold Ginger Tea

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Festive Fudge Sampler

Fudge Assortment W
 I've spent the past few weekends in the kitchen doing some serious holiday baking. Two weekends ago, I was making batch after batch of cookie dough. It's easy to make ahead and freeze to allow for baking later when time allows. This past weekend, I switched gears and went into fudge production. I made 4 different varieties of fudge using just one base recipe. I love it when a recipe is versatile and allows for consistent results; therefore, I usually use the tried and true Fantasy Fudge recipe on the back of Kraft Jet-Puffed Marshmallow Cream jar. I just switch out a few of the ingredients to get the fudge flavor I'm looking for. For Christmas, I wanted to incorporate the flavors of the season, so I made Ginger Snap, Eggnog (my favorite), Cinnamon and Créme de Menthe fudge. I was pleased with the results, so I'm sharing my adaptations here:

Ginger Snap Fudge
Ginger Snap Fudge W
Ginger Snap Fudge
3 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup unsalted butter
One 5 oz. can of evaporated milk (not sweetened condensed milk)
1/2 cup Biscoff spread or Trader Joe's Speculoos Cookie Butter
One 12 oz. bag of white chocolate chips
One 7 oz. jar of Marshmallow Creme
1 tsp. butterscotch flavoring
10-15 Ginger Snaps cookies (crushed)

Prepare a 9-inch square baking dish with parchment paper or foil. I usually spray it with a little cooking spray to help prevent fudge from sticking to the paper when I'm removing it. Set the dish aside.

In a saucepan, combine sugar, butter and evaporated milk and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook for 4 minutes, stirring constantly (very important, otherwise your ingredients will scorch quickly --speaking from experience, here!) Stir in the Biscoff spread, the bag of white chocolate chips, the marshmallow creme and butterscotch flavoring. Stir until thoroughly mixed.

Pour this in to the baking dish and add crushed ginger snaps cookies on top (You can also mix some into the fudge before pouring if desired). I wanted to be able to see the ginger snaps on top, so I just added them after pouring into the pan.

Allow to set in the fridge for a few hours. After the fudge is firm, remove from pan and cut into squares as desired.

Eggnog Fudge
Eggnog W

Eggnog Fudge
3 cups granulated sugar
 3/4 cup unsalted butter
5 oz Eggnog
One 12 oz. bag of white chocolate chips
One 7 oz. jar of Marshmallow Creme
1 tsp. rum flavoring
1 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg

Prepare as listed for Ginger Snap fudge, omitting the biscoff and substituting the evaporated milk with eggnog and rum flavoring for butterscotch. Sprinkle nutmeg into the mix and stir well.

Pour into the prepared pan and sprinkle a bit more nutmeg on top.

Allow to set and cut into squares.

Cinnamon Fudge
Cinnamon Fudge W

Cinnamon Fudge
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup unsalted butter
5 oz evaporated milk
One 10 oz. bag of cinnamon chips
One 7 oz. jar of Marshmallow Creme
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
Chopped Pecans (optional)

Prepare as listed for Ginger Snap fudge, omitting the biscoff. You'll also substitute 1 cup of white sugar with brown sugar. Substitute white chocolate chips with cinnamon chips. Substitute butterscotch with vanilla. Sprinkle cinnamon into the mix and stir well. Add chopped pecans into the mix if desired.

Pour into the prepared pan and sprinkle a few chopped pecans on top.

Allow to set and cut into squares.

Créme de Menthe Fudge
Creme De Menthe W
Créme de Menthe Fudge
3 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup unsalted butter
5 oz evaporated milk
One 10 oz. bag of Andes Créme de Menthe baking chips
One 7 oz. jar of Marshmallow Creme
1 tsp. peppermint flavoring
8 crushed Andes Créme de Menthe cookies

Prepare as listed for Ginger Snap fudge, omitting the biscoff. Substitute white chocolate chips with Créme de Menthe chips. Substitute butterscotch flavoring with peppermint flavoring. Mix a few of the crushed cookies into the fudge mixture.

Pour into the prepared pan and add a few more crushed cookies on top.

Allow to set and cut into squares.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

David's Tea Review: Dessert Teas

David's Tea W

I haven't posted about tea in a while. I know, I have been a very bad blogger. This has turned out to be mostly a food/recipe blog, despite it's name (I can't help it, I love to bake!). Every now and then, though, I do post about tea, and if you came here to read about tea, you're in luck! As you know by now, I'm generally not a hot tea drinker, much less hot coffee or even hot chocolate. I'm not very patient, so I don't wait around for things to cool off, and I'm certainly not a sipper. However, I have found some tea that really makes me want to make an exception. Apparently, I have been living under a rock and did not realize the dessert tea phenomenon that is sweeping the nation. One of the blogs I follow, A Beautiful Mess, recently wrote a post about the tea, and right after reading her post, I found myself on the David's Tea website placing my first order. Lucky for me, they have several sampler boxes which enable me to try lots of different teas, since I had considerable difficulty making up my mind. My order came in last week just in time for Christmas, which means I will be making lots of tea for family when they come in for a visit. I have sampled a couple of the flavors already and they are very yummy. The weather has been colder lately, so it is nice to enjoy a hot beverage for a change. Hot tea is finally growing on me!

A picture is worth a thousand words. Check out all of these flavors in one box:
 Tea Box Menu W

A few of the flavors in the winter collection include Alpine Punch, Chocolate Chili Chai, Banana Dream Pie, Cookie Dough and Cocomint Creme:
 Winter Assort W

The Toasted Marshmallow has me dreaming of Smores by the campfire:
Davids Toasted Marshmallow

Just look at all the nuggets of goodness in this tea:
Tea Leaves W

Now, I'm off to enjoy another cup!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Cinnamon Chip Cookies for Santa


It's that time of year again. The season where people retreat into the kitchen to bake up lots of tasty and sweet treats. I love the spices used most this time of year, the warm and inviting flavors of cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger, with fragrances that linger in the kitchen long after the baking is done. If you like those flavors, you'll love these cookies, which use one of my favorite ingredients, cinnamon chips. I discovered these cinnamon chips a couple of years ago. They are hard to come by at any other time of year, so I always stock up around the holidays to get me through the rest of the year. Be sure to set out a big plateful of these cookies for Santa.

Cinnamon chips are the star of this show

2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 packets of instant Maple and Brown Sugar oatmeal (I use Quaker brand)
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
2 sticks melted butter
1 tsp. butterscotch flavoring (may substitute vanilla)
2 eggs
1 10 oz. bag cinnamon chips

Mix dry ingredients with wet ingredients. Add chips in at the end and mix well. Bake in 350 degree oven for 12-15 minutes. Serve with a tall glass of milk and enjoy.