Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Chai Tea Latte Mix - 4 Ways!

One of the things I love about winter is chai tea lattes. I love my tea and I love chai (we've even brewed a Chai Porter before ... yum!!!). The one thing I don't love about them is how overpriced the premixes are and if you simply add milk to chai tea, it's just not quite the same. Okay, so that's two things!

Chai Tea Latte Mix - 4 Ways!

A few Christmas' ago, I decided to make a big batch of my own and to give it away to people as presents. It was so easy and I made sure to make enough for myself to enjoy too! Since that first year, I have changed up my spices a little bit to get the perfect flavor. I love the ginger and pepper to give it a little kick and the cinnamon and cardamon completely round the the flavor. It's honestly the perfect mix! I have also made different renditions of it because, well ... I get bored of the same flavor all the time! The explanation is that simple. No matter what you're feeling, regular, vanilla, cocoa or pumpkin, you can make them all yourself!

Now there's no need to pay for one at an overpriced coffee shop! As always, the best things in life are homemade!

Chai Tea Latte Mix - 4 Ways!

Chai Tea Latte Mix

Makes 6 1/2 cups

3 cups milk powder
1 1/2 c unsweetened instant tea
1/2 c sugar
1 c dry powdered non-dairy creamer
2 t cinnamon
2 t ginger
1 1/2 t allspice
1 t cloves
1 t cardamon
1/2 t pepper

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Divide mixture into jars.

When ready to drink, mix 3-4 tablespoon with 1 cup warm water. Enjoy!

Chai Tea Latte Mix - 4 Ways!

Vanilla Chai Tea Latte

Use vanilla creamer instead of plain.

Cocoa Chai Tea Latte

Use chocolate creamer instead of plain and replace 1/4 of the tea with 1/4 c cocoa powder.

Pumpkin Chai Tea Latte

Use pumpkin creamer instead of plain and replace the allspice with pumpkin spice.

Chai Tea Latte Mix - 4 Ways!

Monday, December 15, 2014

My Top 10 Kitchen Gadgets

Gadgets make the world go round ... okay maybe not the world, but my kitchen! Kitchen gadgets make a cooks job easier and most importantly, they save us time. To me, that means they are worth their weight in gold. You'll notice a theme with my gadgets. They all save me time and money.

With Christmas just around the corner you may have those one or two people that are hard to buy for. When in doubt, kitchen gadgets! They are fun and functional. You can't go wrong!

Top 10 Kitchen Gadgets

My Top 10 Kitchen Gadgets

  1. Joseph Joseph Garlic Rocker $15: This thing is so fast and efficient for mincing garlic. Let's face it, the minced garlic that you buy in the store does not have the same great garlic flavor. It has to be fresh. This rocker goes really fast and saves time getting your garlic really small and time from cleaning the garlic off your hands!

  2. Y Peeler: My favorite is the Kuhn Rikon 3 pack of vegetable peelers. There is a potato peeler which is like your normal peeler. They have a tomato peeler that actually is gentle enough to peel a tomato and other soft fruits and vegetables. I use it the most for mangos! The third peeler looks like a carrot and it juliennes veggies. I love this for one for julienning carrots, zucchini, cucumbers, etc. This makes making spring rolls go super fast! You can buy them as a set for about $15 or if you just one one it's $5. By the way, they stay sharp close to forever!

  3. VitaMix: I know what you're thinking, "Way too expensive!!!" That's what I used to think until we finally pulled the trigger! Wait until you have a 30% coupon from Bed Bath & Beyond, Kohl's or another department store and get one! Now, I realize that this thing paid for itself! Since we juice a lot, the VitaMix uses half the amount of produce as our old juicer. I also can make a lot more from scratch that I wasn't able to before like peanut butter, ice creams, etc. I have the low end, VitaMix 1300 and it does just fine for us. So ... pull that trigger!

  4. Thumb Press Food Dishers ... Old School Ice Cream Scoops. If you read my blog, you will know I'm obsessed with burgers. These make perfect, consistent burgers every time and it goes fast. I also love a small one for doing my faux meatballs. They also work out great for baking. 

  5. Kitchen Scale: Recently, mine broke and I was seriously lost without it! Escali makes a lot of great ones for reasonable prices. Whichever one you decide to go with, read reviews and make sure that it can go to at least 15 lbs. (you won't regret it). 

  6. Mini Colander: How many times do you bring out a great big colander for one can of beans or washing a handful of produce? It's so annoying! I love my little one can colander. I feel like it could stay on the counter sometimes it gets used so much. World Market is the place to pick these up. Only $2!

  7. Cuisenart Immersion Blender and Small Food Processor Combo: Again, another item that could sit on the counter. It's used for sauces, spreads, baby food ... everything! I love the tiny food processor that it comes with too. So handy to zip the motor onto it and go. Do you need the combo? Not necessarily, the hand blender alone is half the cost and that's really all you need, but the food processor gets used just as much and you don't need to pull out an entire appliance for doing a couple walnuts or breadcrumbs. 

  8. Small Spatulas: One time when we were at the Mustard Museum, they had little spatulas for getting mustard out of the container. Genius! I bought a two-pack. Once I had them, I used them all the time! Most spatulas are just too big for getting around containers and really getting everything out. Now, I think I have about 6 small spatulas! If they're on sale, I can't say no! It's a small strange addiction. Don't judge me!

  9. Collapsible Salad Spinner: Getting all the dirt out of your lettuce can be a pain. Believe me, if you don't see it, it's still there! Wash all your greens, all the time! This salad spinner makes it really easy to do and I love that it's collapsible to save room in my cabinet. The bowl also doubles as a serving bowl and who couldn't use an extra bowl, right?!

  10. Food Processor - Small and Big. I am obsessed with my food processors. I have my small mini food processor, I also have a 7-cup and 14-cup. Because I make a lot of burgers and things in bulk, I need to have a great big one, but sometimes that's just overkill so the normal size is perfect. Is this excessive ... you betcha, but they get used all the time! This is something you don't want to skimp on too much. I have burned motors of cheap ones in the past. Find one with a good warranty! I like sticking with Cuisenart because this is what they are known for and they do a great job with them!
Honorable Mention:

Happy Shopping!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Raw Beet & Chocolate Ice Cream: Just Beet It!

I love when good ideas don't work out as planned, but they still take you to a really great place. There are so many things in life that we plan and plan for and they just don't work out. We need to remember to wait and look outside ourselves and what we originally wanted and look for the silver lining, which many times is better than what we planned for!

Okay, now that I got that out of the way ... back to food so you can see where I am going with that! I have had a few beets sitting around and staring me down and I wanted to do something different. I wanted to make a dessert. I really wanted to make a beet fudge. With trusty ol' Google, I tried to find a recipe and I couldn't find one. There were plenty of fudgy beet cupcakes and brownies, but no fudge. I just didn't feel like baking though! So, I decided to just go for it and see what would happen.

I got the 'batter' to taste pretty darn good. Now, to see if it would actually set up in the refrigerator! Waiting, waiting, waiting ... it never did! It was a really good frosting though! So, I tried the freezer. Waiting, waiting, waiting ... it obviously froze and tasted good, but if it sat out for 10 minutes it was mushy again. Not exactly the fudge I wanted. So, it sat in my freezer for two days. I didn't know what to do with it. It was so tasty, I could use it as a frosting and make cupcakes, but, I still didn't want to bake.

Raw Beet & Chocolate Ice Cream

Then, when I stopped thinking about it, an idea finally popped into my head, "ICE CREAM!" So, I set it out on the counter for a couple minutes, threw it back in my blender and voila ... raw ice cream! The kids downed it for a snack, which I didn't mind them having this ice cream for a snack!

I have since served it on two occasions and both times it went over great. The color is absolutely stunning too which is a great conversation piece, like you needed more to talk about since you're having beet ice cream!. It's so easy to make too. You just ... beet it! Sorry, I couldn't resist, I'm an MJ fan!

Raw Beet & Chocolate Ice Cream

Beet & Chocolate Ice Cream (or frosting!)

Makes 4 cups

2 c beets, peeled and chopped
1 c dates, pitted
1/2 c cashews
1 large avocado
3/4 c cocoa powder
1/3 c coconut oil (unrefined, it should be white and smell like coconut)
1 t vanilla
2 T raw honey (use maple syrup to make vegan)

Put all ingredients into your VitaMix or high-powered blender and JUST BEET IT! Okay, seriously, blend it all until it is thoroughly mixed and smooth.

Raw Beet & Chocolate Ice Cream

Spread in a 8x8 pan lined with parchment paper and freeze. When ready to eat, take out of the freezer for 10 minutes so it thaws just enough that you can take out the amount the you want. I had to cut mine with a knife. Either whip it back in your blender or form with an ice cream scoop for a pretty presentation!

Raw Beet & Chocolate Ice Cream

Best served while listening to Michael Jackson! Seriously, I wouldn't lie about this!

Raw Beet & Chocolate Ice Cream