18 Days of Tea

I ran across a box of Numi Organic tea at Wegmans and decided I was up for an adventure of new tea flavors. This is a preview of all of the teas I will be trying for the next 18 days. They were randomly placed back into the box so I do not have a priority order.

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This is the rating scale I will be using throughout the 18 days:

5/5 – Excellent

4/5 – Pretty good

3/5 – Good

2/5 – Fair

1/5 – Terrible

November 1, 2016: Chamomile Lemon

img_9997I brewed it for a little over 5 minutes like suggested and added honey. It smells kind of bland and has a plain but earthy flavor. There is the tiniest hint of lemon but it is very very weak.

Rating: 3/5

Rationale: This is a herbal tea for relaxation and calming effects so I feel like it is a true representation. Would I have it again? Not my top choice, but I wouldn’t be opposed to drinking it again. It actually might taste pretty good iced. Will I go buy a box? No.

 

November 2, 2016: Moroccan Mint

img_0003I brewed it for 5 minutes as suggested. The smell is just so perfect I wanted to dive right in. I added a tiny bit of sugar as I found it a little earthy and wanted to take the bite off.

Rating: 4/5

Rationale: I really like mint tea. As an herbal it is probably top of the line for me, but in most cases I will choose a black tea over this. That being said I might get a box of this to have at night during the winter because it is such a happy uplifting tea.

 

November 3, 2016: Aged Earl Grey

img_0004I had a little incident and brewed this bad boy for a good twenty minutes before I remembered I made tea – it has been a long week. I added a touch of milk and a tiny bit of sugar.

Rating: 5/5

Rationale: I never really liked Earl Grey before, but this is just phenomenal. I would like a box of this pronto! Sure it does remind me of fruit loops but the tea is just so smooth and gentle and delicious. There was no acidity or harshness even with me brewing it for 20 minutes. LOVE LOVE LOVE!!!

 

Foster’s Herb Biscuits

Foster’s Herb Biscuits

These light and fluffy biscuits are perfect for breakfast and as a topping for Chicken Pot Pie

Makes 1 dozen 2 1/2-inch Biscuits

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 pound (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes

1 cup grated cheddar

1/4 cup chopped watercress or herb (such as parsley, basil, or dill)

1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
Egg wash: 1 large egg beaten with 2 tablespoons milk

1. Preheat the oven to 425°. Lightly grease a baking sheet and set aside.

2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.

3. Cut the butter into the flour mixture using a pastry blender or two knives, until mixture is coarse and crumbly and resembles coarse meal. Stir in the cheese and parsley.

4. Make a well in center of flour mixture, pour in milk, and stir with a fork just until dough comes together. Do not overmix. Turn onto a lightly floured surface, and form the dough into a flat round disk.

5. Pat or roll the dough into a circle about ½ inch thick. Cut out biscuits using a floured 2 1/2 -inch-round cutter. Do not twist cutter. Transfer biscuits to the prepared baking sheet and brush with the egg wash. Place in the oven and bake until brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Serve hot.

Vegetable Pot Pie with Foster’s Herb Biscuits

Vegetable Pot Pie with Foster’s Herb Biscuits

Serves 8 to 10

1 recipe (uncooked) Old-Fashioned Buttermilk Biscuits with herb variation (see link at the bottom of page)

6 tablespoons ( ¾ stick) unsalted butter

4 carrots, peeled and chopped

4 ribs celery, chopped

8 ounces fresh button mushrooms, wiped clean and thinly sliced

¼ cup all-purpose flour

5 cups vegetable broth

One 10-ounce box frozen green peas or 2 cups cooked fresh green peas

1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage or 1 teaspoon dried sage

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Egg wash: 1 egg beaten with 2 tablespoons milk

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

2. Prepare the biscuits as the recipe directs, but do not bake them. Set aside.

3. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the carrots, celery, and mushrooms. Cook, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes, until light brown.

4. Add the flour and cook, stirring frequently, 3 to 4 minutes long, until light brown. Slowly whisk in the broth and bring to a low boil, whisking constantly.

5. Add the peas and sage. Season with salt and pepper and stir to mix. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, 10 to 15 minutes or until thick and creamy.

5. Remove from the heat and transfer the mixture into a 9 by 13-inch baking dish.

6. Top with the uncooked biscuits. Brush the biscuits with the egg wash and bake 25 to 30 minutes, until the biscuits are golden brown and the vegetable mixture is bubbling around the edges. Serve immediately.

Jalapeño Corn Muffins

Jalapeño Corn Muffins

Makes 1 Dozen Muffins

1 ½ cups yellow cornmeal

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

¼ cup sugar

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

1 2/3 cups buttermilk

2 large eggs

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

¼ cup sour cream

1 cup (4 ounces) grated Cheddar cheese

Kernels from 1 ear fresh corn (½ cup fresh or frozen corn)

1 jalapeño, seeded and minced

3 scallions, trimmed and minced

 

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

2. Line 12 large muffin cups with paper liners and spray the top part of the pan lightly with vegetable oil spray.

3. Toss together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl and stir to combine.

4. Mix together the buttermilk, eggs, butter, and sour cream in a separate bowl and blend well.

5. Add the cornmeal mixture to the egg mixture and stir just until the dry ingredients are moist and blended. Do not overmix.

6. Fold in the cheese, corn, jalapeño, and scallions.

7. Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin pan with a large ice cream scoop (1/3-cup scoop). The natter will come to the top of the paper liner or pan.

8. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, until the muffins have risen, the tops spring back when pressed lightly, and a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.

9. Remove from the oven and cool for 5 minutes. Turn the muffins out of the pan and serve immediately.

Banana Pudding

Banana Pudding

Serves 6 to 8

2 and 1/4 cups milk

1  vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped and reserved

4 large eggs, separated

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup cornstarch, sifted

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons dark rum

8 ounces vanilla wafers (about 2/3 of a 12oz box)

3 ripe bananas, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

 

Lightly grease a 2-quart baking dish.

Combine 2 cups of the milk with the vanilla bean and reserved seeds in a heavy-bottomed saucepan, place over medium heat, and bring to a low boil.  Remove from the heat and discard the vanilla bean.

Whisk together the egg yolks and 1/2 cup of the sugar in a large bowl.  Combine the remaining 1/4 cup milk with the cornstarch and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt in a small separate bowl and stir to dissolve the cornstarch.  Stir the cornstarch mixture into the egg mixture.

Stir a small amount of the heated milk into the yolk mixture to temper the eggs.  Whisk the yolk mixture back into the saucepan with the milk mixture, place over medium-low heat, and cook, stirring constantly, for about 5 to 7 minutes, until the mixture thickens.  Remove from the heat, transfer to a bowl, and add the butter and rum, stirring until the butter melts.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cover the bottom of the prepared dish with one-third of the wafers.  Arrange half the banana slices in a layer over the wafers and cover with half the pudding.  Place another third of the wafers on top of the pudding, followed by the remaining bananas and the remaining pudding.  Arrange the remaining wafers in a ring around the edges of the dish, inserting them halfway into the pudding.

Place the egg whites, cream of tartar, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt in a glass or metal bowl and beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and frothy.  Increase the speed to high and beat to soft peaks.  Slowly add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, beating constantly, until the whites are shiny and hold stiff peaks, about 3 minutes.  Do not beat the whites past this point or they will separate and become grainy.

Spread or pipe the meringue on top of the pudding with a spatula or pastry bag and tip, making sure to cover the pudding completely to prevent the meringue from shrinking when baked.  Form peaks by repeatedly drawing a knife or spatula across the meringue and then in an upward motion, or by piping with a pastry bag and ending with an upward motion.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until the tips of the meringue are golden brown.  Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Corn and Roasted Red Pepper Chowder

Corn and Roasted Red Pepper Chowder

Makes 2½ to 3 quarts chowder; serves 6 to 8

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 leeks, trimmed and split lengthwise
4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter
1 yellow onion, diced
4 ribs celery, diced
6 garlic cloves, minced
8 cups vegetable broth or chicken broth
2 Yukon gold or russet potatoes, peeled and chopped
Kernels from 4 ears fresh corn (2 cups fresh or frozen corn)
3 roasted red bell peppers, peeled, cored, seeded, and chopped
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh thyme or 2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives or chopped fresh parsley
1 cup heavy cream
Fresh chives, to garnish, optional

1. Soak the leeks in a bowl filled with cold water for 10 minutes. Rinse and drain. Slice into ¼-inch rounds and set aside.

2. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat and add the onion. Cook and stir about 15 minutes, until softened. Add the leeks and celery and cook and stir about 10 minutes longer, until the leeks and celery have softened. Add the garlic and cook and stir about 2 minutes more.

3. Add the broth and potatoes and bring to a low boil, reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, about 30 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. Add the corn, roasted red peppers, salt, black pepper, and thyme and simmer about 15 minutes longer. Remove the pot from the heat and add the chives.

4. Remove about 4 cups of the mixture from the pot and cool slightly. Place the cooled soup in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade and puree until smooth. Return this mixture to the soup and stir until well blended.

5. Stir in the cream and reheat over low heat, stirring constantly, until heated through. Serve immediately, garnished with chives if desired.

Baked Potato Soup

Baked Potato Soup

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium russet potatoes, washed and dried
  • 1 small head of cauliflower  (3 1/2 cups or 16 ounces), stem removed cut into florets
  • 1 1/2 cups fat free chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cups 1% reduced-fat milk
  • salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 cup light sour cream
  • 10 tbsp reduced-fat shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 6 tbsp chopped chives, divided
  • 3 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled (you can use turkey bacon if you prefer)

Directions:

  1. Pierce potatoes with a fork; microwave on high for 5 minutes turn over and microwave another 3 – 5 minutes, until tender. Or if you prefer to use your oven, bake at 400° for 1 hour or until tender. Cool. Peel potatoes.
  2. Meanwhile, steam cauliflower with water in a large covered pot until tender. Drain and return to pot.
  3. On medium heat, add chicken broth, milk, potatoes and bring to a boil.
  4. Use an immersion blender to puree until smooth. Add sour cream, half the chives, salt and pepper and cook on low another 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Remove from heat. Ladle 1 cup soup into each bowl.
  6. Top each serving with 2 tbsp cheese, remaining chives, and bacon.

BLT Salad with Avocado

BLT Salad with Avocado

Ingredients:

  • 12 slices lean center cut bacon, cooked and chopped
  • 4 Roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/4 cup light mayonnaise (I use Hellman’s)
  • 1/8 tsp kosher salt
  • fresh black pepper, to taste
  • 6 cups chopped Romaine lettuce
  • 4 oz (1 medium) hass avocado, diced

Directions:

In a medium bowl, combine the diced tomatoes with the mayonnaise, and season with a little salt and fresh cracked pepper. Set aside for about 10 minutes to let the tomatoes release their juices as this will be the “dressing” to your salad.

To serve, divide the chopped lettuce and tomatoes onto 4 plates, then top each with diced avocado and chopped bacon

Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes

Cauliflower “Mashed Potatoes”

Ingredients:

  • 1 3lb head cauliflower
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp heavy cream
  • 2 tbsp grated cheddar cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • chopped scallions, for garnish
  • melted butter or olive oil, for drizzling (optional)

 

Directions:

  1. Prep the cauliflower by cutting it into quarters, then cutting off the core (please refer to the video if needed). Break the quarters up into florets with your hands or a knife.
  2. Add a cup of water to a big pot and bring to a boil. Add the cauliflower florets, cover with a lid, and cook for 5-8 minutes until the cauliflower is fork tender (cook time will vary depending on the size of your florets). Puree the cooked cauliflower in a blender or food processor until smooth, then mix with the butter, cream, cheese, and salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with scallions and drizzle with melted butter or olive oil if desired. Enjoy!

 

Avocado Cucumber Salad

Oh man I cannot WAIT to put this on some toast!

obsessively good avocado cucumber salad

Serves 2 as a main or 4 as a side

3/4 to 1 pound seedless cucumber, washed and chopped into chunks
2 thin or 1 regular scallions, thinly sliced
1 large avocado, pitted and diced
2 tablespoons mayonaise
Juice of half a lime, plus more to taste
Salt and hot sauce (we used Sriracha) to taste
Chopped cilantro or flat-leaf parsley to garnish

Combine cucumber, scallions and avocado in a bowl. Whisk together mayo, lime and seasonings, adjusting levels to taste. Drizzle salad with dressing and garnish with cilantro or parsley.