If you’re already in the market for a New Year’s resolution, or are just looking to change things up in the dessert department, I’ve got one for you: baking with tea! Why more of us aren’t doing it on a regular basis is a mystery to me; maybe it’s that we’re in a rut of thinking of tea as only a beverage. If you think about it though, using tea to flavor food is no different than using other dried plant bits, like pepper, thyme or basil. When you’ve got a really flavorful tea, adding it to your basic baked goods can completely transform them with depth of flavor, delicate floral notes or a hint of citrus zest.
In this case, I used one of my favorite Stash winter teas, Christmas in Paris, to infuse my trusty chocolate chip skillet cookie with extra chocolatey flavor, a hint of lavender (that’s the Paris part!) and a touch of cool peppermint. Oh, and I decided to make a quick batch of tea infused no-churn ice cream too, and it turns out tea also tastes amazing in ice cream form.
Don’t ask me to explain the science behind the magic, but dairy happily takes on the flavor of whatever you put in it. So working the flavor of the tea into the skillet cookie and the ice cream is as easy as steeping a few tea bags in melted butter and cream before mixing everything together. Just like when you make a cup of tea, the strength of the tea flavor that comes through is up to you. Simply use more tea bags for bold flavor or fewer for just a subtle hint of tea. Either way, you’ve got a uniquely delicious cookie and ice cream pairing on your hands.
Why use the same tea to infuse both the cookie and the ice cream, you ask? This particular tea lends itself well to both, but in different ways: the cocoa shells in the tea add a smooth chocolate taste to the cookie batter, while in the ice cream I taste more of the peppermint, which keeps it from feeling too heavy. Whether you cut your skillet cookie into humanely portioned slices and serve it like pie a la mode, or just dive in with spoons like P and I did, I guarantee it won’t last long.
Happy November everyone! It’s hard to believe we’re already halfway through autumn, and the month of Thanksgiving (and Gilmore Girls!) is upon us. Before you know it, it will be Christmas which I can’t wait for, because it means P will have two weeks off of work and my sister will be home from college. December also happens to be Bisou’s birthday month! Needless to say, I’m very much looking forward to the next several weeks. For now though, I’m still making the most of fall – even if it is an extra gray and rainy one in Portland – before all the leaves fall and it’s too cold out to go on strolls around the neighborhood. Speaking of leaves, how about this laurel wreath? The leaves aren’t technically from a laurel bush, but once they’re layered into wreath form, they look pretty darn festive anyway. Don’t you love how the wreath looks like it’s magically floating on the front door!?
I’m not usually one for seasonal decorating; I think it’s because I don’t like the idea of storing a bunch of objects that only see the light of day a month or two out of the year. I’m happy to make an exception for this wreath though, since it’s seasonally appropriate for fall and winter, and afterwards I don’t have to worry about finding a place to store it. All you need to make your own wreath is a bit of floral wire, hot glue, fishing line and any thick, glossy leaves you can find. I couldn’t decide whether to make a natural green wreath or a fancy gold one so I tried it both ways, and I still can’t choose a favorite. Either way, hanging a laurel wreath on your front door or somewhere in the house adds some natural looking autumnal vibes and holiday cheer, depending on the month. It complements our pumpkins now, and I really hope we get some snowfall this winter so I get to see it in the snow, too. Read on for the tutorial, and a look at Bisou wondering what the heck I was doing standing outside. Continue Reading
Despite growing up in the cold, damp Pacific Northwest and spending a few years in the Midwest for college, I’ve never gotten used to the cold that hits every year around this time. While other people are leaving the house in light sweaters, I’m in triple layers with a scarf and wool socks and I’m still shivering. We’re spending our first cold season in our new place, which happens to be older and thus full of drafts, and now I can’t seem to stay warm inside, either. So what to do all winter long, when it’s so cold you can’t get cozy no matter how many chunky knits you’ve piled on? You warm yourself from the inside out, my friends. I’m convinced that nothing will thaw a freezing person more efficiently than imbibing a steaming mug of seasonal spice with a splash of liquor. You might be already be familiar with this drink’s official name: the hot toddy.
Traditionally made with hot water, lemon, honey and spices mixed with some of that liquor I mentioned before, the hot toddy is a drink made for chilly, rainy days. It will even help you nurse a cold; when you’re under the weather, what could be more soothing than warm liquids, honey and, of course, that bit of alcohol to dull your aches and pains? This hot toddy is a seasonal twist on the original recipe thanks to my current favorite Stash tea, maple apple cider. Substituting tea for plain old hot water gives a hot toddy loads more flavor – in this case, apple, cinnamon, caramel, maple and a hint of hibiscus – so I highly recommend this particular blend. Stash has been a family favorite for as long as I can remember. When I was very young I’d spend holidays at my grandma’s house sorting her vast assortment of Stash teas by color, and when I was old enough to appreciate the tea for its flavor I’d regularly deplete my mom’s Stash reserves of everything minty. With the holidays approaching I’m looking forward to serving this hot toddy to my family and making more memories to reflect on whenever I sip my morning Stash. Read on for the recipe! Continue Reading