chai latte concentrate


Oh, my love affair with chai. I am on and off addicted to it. Hmm. No. Let’s be honest. I am always addicted to it. I just sometimes go through indulgent spells and sometimes decide to be responsible and not gulp down lots of sugar in the morning or try to challenge my body’s caffeine capacity. I am, however, most of the time indulgent and consider it my happy thing of the day. I actually don’t drink coffee. You wouldn’t believe it looking at my countertop, with an espresso machine and unground beans and some other machine that makes a lot of noise and some stick looking thing with a bulbous cup on the end of it. No, I’m actually not coffee literate at all and just happen to be married to the trendy coffee/beer/wine guy. He’s actually the one who introduced me to my beloved iced chai latte when we were dating. That’s what the boyfriend’s gotta do when he wants to go on a coffee date and his gal doesn’t like coffee. My first sip of the cool, spicy drink turned into an instant, “…uhh. *cough* Yeah, uh…can we make this a venti?”

Chai, traditionally from India, is a word for tea and is steeped with various spices, giving it a very aromatic and in-depth flavor profile. There isn’t a right or wrong way to create chai, really. It’s mostly based on several core spices and can be changed and modified based on taste. The major players are cardamom (a spice actually in the ginger family), cinnamon, ginger, and cloves.

chai latte concentrate
prep time: 5 minutes cook time: 20 minutes yield: about 4 cups
4 cups water
10 black tea bags
20 whole peppercorns, lightly crushed
10 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
2 cinnamon sticks
2 star anise
5 whole cloves
1 inch piece fresh ginger, lightly crushed
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 cup unrefined brown sugar
2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp orange zest
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract

In a medium saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Remove from the heat and add the tea bags, peppercorns, cardamom, cinnamon, star anise, cloves, ginger, and nutmeg and allow to steep for 10 minutes. Stir in the brown sugar, honey, orange zest, lemon juice, and vanilla extract and let steep another 10 minutes.
Pour the tea through a fine mesh strainer (to remove the whole spices) into a one quart container. I used a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Allow the tea to cool before sealing it completely. Store chilled.
To enjoy a chai latte, mix equal parts chai concentrate and milk. Heat the mixture on the stovetop to drink hot or, for my favorite, pour over ice.

As stated in the recipe, a chai latte can be enjoyed hot or cold. As much as I love hot chocolate and cider and, not surprisingly, hot chai, hot drinks tend to give me headaches. So, I try to stick to the chilly versions of things. The hot drink headache, however, doesn’t compare much to the I’ve-decided-to-give-up-caffeine headache. Oy. But enough about headaches. It’s giving me a headache just writing about headaches. And writing about headaches makes me want a…chai. Erg. Addiction.



cinnamon whole wheat pancakes

I’m sitting here watching the Olympics and these people are crazy. Crazy awesome. I’m not gonna say they make it look easy. Every event still looks pretty dang hard, even when done by super-human-machines. But I’m proud of each one of them, no matter the country. Good job, athletes. Oh, side note: I want some of those men’s running shorts. Is that weird?

Oh, I forgot what I was here for. Food! Guess what my husband and I had the other night that we hadn’t done in a long time? Breakfast for dinner! It’s one of those odd concepts that reminds me of children or of being a child. I think kids are like, “This meal is not at the right time, everything is mixed up, the order of a normal day is thrown off…cool.” It’s fun and a neat change. Of course, you can eat these flappin’ jackies at any time of the day. Annnnd since they’re whole wheat, they actually are really great for breakfast. I think I’ve blabbed about the benefits of whole wheat in a previous post, but, in short, the whole grain is great for digestion, energy, and helping you feel fuller longer.

cinnamon whole wheat pancakes
prep time: 5 minutes cook time: 10 minutes yield: about 12 pancakes
1 1/3 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 large egg
1 2/3 cups buttermilk
1 tbsp unrefined brown sugar
1 tbsp olive oil
1-2 tbsp unsalted butter

Preheat a sauté pan over medium-high heat.
In a medium bowl, stir the flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda, and ground cinnamon together. In another bowl, beat the egg, buttermilk, brown sugar, and olive oil together. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until everything is just moistened. The batter will be slightly lumpy.
Melt a pinch of the butter in the pan and add 1/4 cup batter. When bubbles appear on the surface, quickly flip it over, turning only once (I only did one pancake at a time, mostly because I was using a smaller pan, but before adding more batter, make sure to season the pan each time with a good amount of butter. The butter helps form a golden, slightly crusty edge, while also ensuring that the pancakes don’t stick). Repeat until the batter is gone.
Serve hot with maple syrup.

My bats-in-the-belfry hubs slid a fried egg, some bacon, and a huge, sopping pour of maple syrup in between a couple of these pancakes and attempted to eat the slippery contraption as a sandwich. He said it was good. I’m sure he will give you permission to try his invention. For the record, he’s really awesome and not as weird as I portray him to be. Mmm, mostly.

Oh my gosh! Sorry, Olympics distraction again. Men’s trampoline just came on and it looks like the scariest thing ever. First of all, trampolines simply sitting by themselves are scary, and, secondly, I’m pretty sure those guys are going at least 2,000 feet into the air. Ehh, shudder.

porridge with cinnamon and brown sugar

Remember the scene in Beauty and the Beast where Belle and Beast (what’s his name, anyway? Surely Belle doesn’t go through their married lives calling him Beast) are eating together? And Beast is completely barbaric? And they meet in the middle? And both eat sloppy white stuff politely from the bowl without a utensil?

Man. I can’t seem to get away from that movie, can I?

The sloppy white stuff they’re eating is actually porridge. Yep, Goldilocks ate porridge. Yep, Beast and Belle ate porridge. Yep, there’s even a Grimm Fairy Tale called Sweet Porridge. Maybe it’s seen all over the make-believe world because it’s very humble, very homey, very simple, and very nutritious. Most of the time, porridge is simply made with cooked oats (they have so much soluble fiber, which actually soaks up water and helps us feel fuller longer, and is proven to lower cholesterol), although other grains can also be used. It’s like an oatmeal, but it’s served hot with cold milk or cream poured over the top, creating a striking and satisfying temperature difference.

I used steel-cut oats in my porridge recipe. They’re a traditional porridge ingredient and contain the whole grain, so it has all the good fiber-rich bran and germs (basically the embryo of the seed). Who knew Beast and Belle were so healthy?

porridge with cinnamon and brown sugar
4 cups water
1 cup steel-cut oats
pinch of salt
milk or cream
ground cinnamon
brown sugar

Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Slowly whisk the oats into the boiling water to prevent any clumps. Add the salt and reduce the heat to low. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes.
Serve hot in a bowl with a small pour of milk over the top, a sprinkle of cinnamon, and a few pinches of brown sugar. You can add other ingredients if you’d like, like dried or fresh fruits or vanilla extract or granola.

See you guys next week! We’re off to Disney World!

chocolate amaretto sandwich cookies

I’ve never really understood Valentine’s Day. I’m not saying I’m against it. I’ve never been against it. It’s just never really interested me. It’s funny, when people ask what my husband and I are doing when the 14th rolls around, I’m like, “…uhh. Possibly going to the grocery store. Working. Going for a run? Oh? Were you expecting a different answer? (looks at the calendar) Ohh. It’s Valentine’s Day. Heh..” And I don’t really like to be that person that’s like, “Psh, Valentine’s? Do you think I’m going to participate in such things? Me? Please…talk to the hand.” and be all holier-than-thou. Some people like VDay, and I can appreciate it. So, for y’all who love to love on the official love day, these cookies are for you.

chocolate amaretto sandwich cookies
1 1/8 sticks unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup all natural cane sugar
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

4 1/2 squares bittersweet chocolate, chopped into pieces
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp amaretto liqueur

Preheat the oven to 325º. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Place the butter and sugar in a large bowl and beat together until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Sift the flour, unsweetened cocoa, and ground cinnamon into the bowl and mix until a smooth dough forms. It will be thick, almost fudge-like.
Place the dough between 2 sheets of parchment and roll out to 1/8″ thick. Stamp out desired size heart shapes and place on the prepared cookie sheet. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes, or until firm to the touch. Let cool for 2 minutes, then transfer to racks to cool completely.
To make the filling, place the chocolate, cream, and amaretto (really, is there any other than Disaronno?) in a pan and heat gently on low until the chocolate has melted. Stir until smooth. Let cool, then let chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours, or until firm. Sandwich the cookies together in pairs with a spoonful of chocolate cream and serve.

Happy Valentine’s to those who are looking for a sweet treat to create and who are currently super excited about planning a fun day. And you know? You don’t have to settle for random stuff in the drugstore with icky ingredients your body doesn’t like. You really can make delicious things your body can more easily process. And…just for the record…I never said it was calorie-free.

P.S. A bunch of future friends (AKA blogging people who I know I will love) and I are going to Disney World next month to talk about awesome blogging things and hang out with Mickey! I’m jumpin’ outta my boots right now. I can’t wait to meet all of you! Thank you Food Blog Forum and Walt Disney World!

no recipe post

Hello, friends. Heh…heh. I’m walking away slowly as I picture you all chasing me with flaming brooms and red-hot pokers and small boulders.

Where have I been?

Heh, well, you see, I’ve, well…it’s this way. AGAIN. My sister got married! Whoop whoop. And, y’all, I made seven cakes for the event. Yep! She wanted lots of different kinds. It took several days and, actually, not a lot of stress, but very little sleep. It was REALLY fun, baking for hours and hours and rushing the cakes around to random refrigerators in Columbia, and having my husband carry me around in the back of his parents’ SUV while I pretended to be Duff, carefully carrying cakes for someone more important than the president, listening to Christmas music and getting arm cramps. No, seriously, it WAS SUPER fun. I’ll have to post recipes and pictures later after I upload them all.

In the meantime, enjoy these pictures of my husband and me making Saturday morning breakfast.