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May 20, 2014

Homemade Chai Tea Latte

I love the idea of having a signature drink on hand throughout the summer.  And I've been trying to wean myself off coffee, at least in part.  So when hostess/chef Carla from the talk show The Chew demonstrated how to make homemade Chai Tea Latte, I thought I'd give it a shot.  Carla's best suggestion was to make this in quantity.  She was right, as I have been guzzling iced chai throughout Southern California's recent hundred-degree heat waves.  I used my biggest soup pot to make this.  Still, I had to make the recipe twice to use up the case of almond milk that I purchased from Costco.  That was okay too, as it allowed me to prepare about three or four days' worth, and I didn't have to make the second batch until mid-week.  

Homemade Chai Tea Latte

Heat almond milk just to a simmer, being careful not to let it boil, stirring frequently or constantly while heating to prevent scalding on the bottom of the pan.  Add two chai tea bags per carton of milk used.  Proportionally, I used 3 cartons almond milk, six tea bags, three cinnamon sticks, 1/2 c. honey, and 1/3 c. vanilla.  Optional add-ins include ground nutmeg, ground cardamom, cloves, or some sort of chilis.  Once heated, allow tea bags to steep for 4-6 minutes.  Use a funnel to ladle the liquid back into the milk cartons.  Store in fridge for iced chai latte. 

Do you have a signature drink that you enjoy in hot weather?  If you have a recipe to share, please leave a link in the blog comments.

May 10, 2014

Beading with Czech Glass

Crafting with others is often much more fun than doing it alone.  However, traveling with supplies poses some problems, as I discovered when I took all my beads on an out of state trip.  I had a great organizer, so I thought, and was traveling by car, so no problem, right?  But when the organizer tipped on its side, I ended up with a mishmosh of seed beads in a new rainbow combination.  That was four years ago, and the mess was so mixed up I avoided it all this time.  But I've had fun this month finally reorganizing my beading supplies.  The mixed up seed beads ended up in a donation pile to become someone else's problem, but all my other beads are neatly sorted in new see-through bins.  

Often when I go out of town, my souveniers brought home end up being a few strings of beads.  These Czech glass beads were my reminders of my latest trip to Nashville.  I strung them this week as my "power bracelet" in shades of carnelian and gold.

Do you often wear jewelry you've made yourself, or do you tend to give away most everything you make?  What sizes of beads do you enjoy working with?  Feel free to leave a comment on the blog.

May 5, 2014

Pear & Gorgonzola Marinated Tofu

Lazy summer cooking....It's been 95 degrees at my home this week, and I can't bear to use even the toaster oven.  Luckily tofu steaks are great pan fried or served cold, plain.  I bought a case of tofu at Costco, and I'm marinating a package (four patties) at a time.  Great now to eat cold on a bed of greens, as here, plated on a bed of spinach and garnished with pistachios, but it will be sublime in a month or so when everyone in the neighborhood begins firing up their grills.  And the easiest shortcut of all is using your favorite salad dressing as a marinade.  I used Trader Joe's Pear and Gorgonzola dressing for this lunch.  Once dressed, the tofu will last 4-5 days in the refrigerator. 

What are your favorite marinades or salad dressings?  Please leave a comment on the blog.

May 4, 2014

Shirred Eggs with Lentils and Bruschetta

My foodie addiction of late has been Trader Joe's Steamed Lentils mixed with their Trader Giotto's branded Bruschetta Sauce.  The lentils are pre-cooked, so all you have to do is break them up a bit with a fork and mix with the brushetta, which is fresh, not canned.  I discovered this combination through an in-store demo.  I've been trying to eat more beans in my diet, but I am often put off by the texture.  These lentils are perfectly hidden in the bruschetta.  It's great as a dip for pita chips.  I've also used it as the base sauce for delicious homemade pizza.  

When I was planning an Easter brunch, I wanted an elegant presentation with a new twist, so I thought of using this lentil-bruschetta mixture as a base for Shirred Eggs.  Shirred, or baked eggs, is a dish in which eggs have been baked in a flat-bottomed dish.  They are baked simply until the whites have set and the yolks are thickened, and are usually served in the dish in which they were baked.  I cooked them in soup bowls, making for an individual presentation for each guest.  I used a base layer of the lentil-bruschetta sauce, then poured two egg whites and one whole egg on top.  Once cooked, I garnished with sliced avocado.

This is an easy egg dish to dress up my own meal plan, since I can cook a single serving.  I can use my toaster oven for the small dish, and one will take as little as 20 minutes, so I can put a dish in the oven then go take a shower, and breakfast is ready by the time I'm out.  For myself, I use egg whites only, omitting the cholesterol of the yolk. 

What are some ways you use to increase beans in your diet, or your families, for people who don't like the texture?  Please leave a comment on the blog.

May 3, 2014

Mango Smoothie

I posted to facebook a picture of a smoothie I made for myself when Los Angeles was having a 98 degree April day (summer already?).  A few friends asked what I put into my smoothies, so here's a picture of the ingredients:

Mango-Coconut Smoothie

2 Tbsp Chia Seed
1-2 Tbsp Hemp Seeds
2-3 Tbsp non-sweetened Cocount
2-4 pitted Dates
Handful frozen Mango (maybe 3/4 C?)

I put all above ingredients into a mason jar in the morning when I'm making breakfast and let sit in the fridge for the frozen mango to soften a bit.  Then in the height of the afternoon when I really need to cool down I take the jar out of the fridge, simply add soymilk to the top and blend with my immersion blender.  Makes a great lunch when I've been too busy gardening to take a break!  And with the frozen fruit and cold milk, it really cools me off.

May 2, 2014

Ginger-Monkey Bread!

Monkey (Ginger)Bread, Easter 2014

Have you ever attempted a recipe that you knew would come out better if you could bake it with your mom?  I stumbled upon this monkey bread recipe when it was published in 2010 by Food52.  The gingerbread twist was so creative and seemed like such a festive way to celebrate.   It took two years for me to get up the gumption to try to make it in my own home kitchen.  I was spending one of the first of many holidays alone in Los Angeles, and decided to go all out to treat myself.  As usual, I was behind in my baking, but this time I had a hard deadline:  it was Thanksgiving, and since I was alone I had agreed to serve meals to the homeless for a portion of the day, so I had to leave the house for about six hours.  I decided it would have to wait to bake till after my commitment with Gobble Gobble Give, so I left my beautiful bread to rise while I was gone.  You know the punchline:  I came home to a yeast failure.  Though it had failed to rise, I cooked the bread anyway, but the sugary, rock-hard lumps were too dense to eat.

This year, I celebrated Easter at my folks' home, so I took advantage of the opportunity to cook with my mom by pulling out this recipe.  I don't know if it was cooking in a bigger, nicer kitchen, not leaving home till the process was complete, or simply my mom's love put into the baking, but we rocked Monkey Bread!  Between the three of us, it was devoured in a day and a half, with a large volume of coffee.  I was flying high on sugar and caffeine as I boarded the plane to come home, but the gingerbread sure made it feel like a holiday, and I will always remember baking with my mom.

Monkey (Ginger)Bread 
by arielleclementine
at Food52

Serves 8
  • 1 packet active dry yeast
  • pinch sugar
  • 1/3 cup warm water (110 degrees)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 3 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour (if needed)
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  1. In a small bowl, combine yeast and a pinch of sugar with the warm water. Set aside to sit for 10 minutes, until foamy.
  2. In a small saucepan, combine 2 tablespoons butter, milk, and molasses and heat until the butter is melted. Set aside to cool briefly.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine flour, salt, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg with a whisk or spoon.
  4. Attach the dough hook and turn the mixer to low speed. Slowly add the molasses mixture and then the yeast mixture. After the dough comes together mix for 7 minutes, or until smooth. The dough will be sticky (it should stick to the bottom of the bowl), but if it seems too wet add up to 1/4 cup additional flour, one tablespoon at a time.
  5. Turn dough onto lightly floured surface and knead by hand for an additional minute to form a smooth ball. Lightly oil a large bowl. Place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat in oil. Cover with plastic wrap and put it in a warm spot to rise until doubled in size, about 1 to 1.5 hours.
  6. Butter the bundt pan with 2 tablespoons softened butter. Put the melted stick of butter in one small bowl, and the brown sugar in another.
  7. When the dough has risen, transfer to a lightly floured surface and gently pat into an 8-inch square. Cut dough into 64 pieces and roll the pieces into balls. One at a time, dip the balls in butter, then roll in brown sugar, and place in the bundt pan, making all attempts to distribute the balls evenly.
  8. Cover the bundt pan with plastic wrap, place in a warm spot, and allow to rise for 1 more hour. (Or you could be a gambler and refrigerate the dough overnight, and then let it come to room temperature in the morning just before baking for breakfast). The balls should be puffy and about an inch below the top of the pan.
  9. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the monkey bread for 30-35 minutes, until the top is golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool in pan for 5 minutes (but no longer!). Invert onto a cake stand and cool for another 5-10 minutes. Devour!
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