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These random sunny warm days are making me want to sit on the back porch with a tall glass of iced tea and listen to the birds chip. That sounds really southern, but also pretty heavenly. Today was such a day and we (me and my dog who is kennel bound for his recovery from knee surgery) thoroughly enjoyed getting some vitamin D. And since my grandma sent over a big bag of tangerines I had the idea to make tangerine syrup.
This tangerine syrup would be excellent in tea, or in a mojito or margarita. I made a small batch, but this recipe could easily be doubled or tripled for larger batches. Store them in airtight jars in the fridge. If you use this syrup in anything other than tea please share with me!
First you need to make a simple syrup. Boil equal parts sugar and water until combined, add some lemon zest and tangerine juice and reduce by half. Strain it, cool, and viola!
I made this tea with the Kirkland Ito En Matcha Blend Japanese Green Tea I have talked about before because it can be cold brewed in about 3 minutes. That means this iced tea comes together super fast, no waiting for water to boil or tea to cool, and no watered down tea because you added ice before the tea was cool enough. If you use a different type of tea or choose to brew it in hot water make sure it cools completly before icing so you don’t end up with weak tea. Alternatively you could make it extra concentrated so that the melted ice brings it to the normal strength. The tangerine syrup would be good in any kind of iced tea though, black, white, red…. be creative. I think I will try it in black tea next time, or maybe even a blend of black and green. Hmmmm…..
I am sitting here on the couch watching “Decoding The Ancients” sipping chai tea, and keeping an eye on my dog to make sure he doesn’t lick. I am bored, until I think to myself, hey, it’s tea month, you’re supposed to be sharing tea and chai tea is on the list, so let’s do it! Viola! I am no longer bored.
One of my favorite beverages is chai tea. I love the warmth of the spices, it is the tea I always want when it is rainy and gloomy and I need a mood booster. Please make this tea, it has a lengthy ingredient list but it really isn’t hard and it is SO worth it. Today I made it with cacao nibs and I believe this is my new favorite version. When possible I try to make my chai tea completely from scratch, the difference in taste is incredible.
I also like to use whole spices in combination with ground spices, you can get a strong flavor with ground spices but they can be difficult to strain out making the tea gritty. If you use whole spices, you need to simmer longer and use a little more than with ground spices. Most of the spices you probably have most of the spices on hand anyways. I make sure to always have freshly minced ginger by peeling my ginger and pulsing in a food processor until minced. Then I spread it out on a baking sheet and freeze it, then place into a freezer bag so I have it on hand at all times.
This specific recipe is for the spices I have on hand and uses both whole and ground spices, but feel free to mix it up. I like a lot of ginger and black pepper in mine, but that’s not your thing then cut back a little. Try adding in other flavors, or using different sweeteners for subtle differences in flavor. I like to use cashew milk, raw sugar, and Honeybush Tea because it is caffeine free and has a natural sweetness to it. Black, green, and other red or herbal teas will also work.
Honeybush tea is another one of my favorite teas, one that I also get from Mountain Rose Herbs. It has a flavorful and sweet almost honey like taste and is caffeine free. I highly recommend this tea to anyone just starting to drink teas or is wanting to switch from artificially flavored bagged teas to natural loose leaf tea. It is great iced too, I once added pureed mango to ice honeybush tea and it was delightful. Anyone else a fan of this tea?
Place the spices and the water in a small pot and bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes or until it is reduced by half.
Remove from heat and add the tea. Steep for 5 minutes, then strain into a tea pot using a fine mesh sieve.
Heat milk in a pot over medium/low heat, being careful not to scald the milk or boil it. Add the sweetener of choice and stir until dissolved. Then pour it into the tea pot with the tea, stir to combine and serve.
This holiday season feels so chaotic to me. I don’t feel prepared for it at all, even as it is happening all around me it still doesn’t feel real yet. Even our annual Rowland family Christmas party didn’t really make it sink in that Christmas is 5 days away! What the heck? It was JUST Thanksgiving like a week ago. I was planning on sharing all these holiday things with you, but time has really just gotten away from me. Finally, though, I have a minute to share at least this one appetizer recipe with you.
For the family Christmas party I was put in charge of coordinating all the appetizers so I felt compelled to make sure the ones I contributed were good ones. This recipe is from my Aunt Lisa and is one of my favorites. It’s cool and spicy and bright and tangy, delicious and addicting. Seriously, if you want to stop eating it you either have to finish the whole thing or go to a completely different room. You could use canned or pre-packaged cranberry sauce for this and skip 1 below, but the fresh cranberries are prettier and taste much better. Jalapenos vary so much in spice level, sometimes I use 2 and sometimes just 1. This last time I only used 1/2 because they were so spicy so add a little at a time and taste test until you get to the spiciness level you like. I also really like the red onion, but feel free to cut back on it if it’s too much for you.
Wash cranberries and place them in a saucepan with water and sugar. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
Assemble the Dip
Place the whole jalapeno in a pot of water, covering completely. Bring to a boil and boil for 1 minute. Remove and let cool.
Remove the stem and seeds from the jalapenos (you may want to use gloves) and mince them.
Add cranberry sauce, cilantro, jalapenos, lemon juice, green onion, and salt to a bowl and mix well. Let sit for 2 hours or so in the fridge for flavors to incorporate.
Pour over 1/2 the sauce over a block of cream cheese, serve with pita chips.
I like to make this cranberry sauce an appetizer by pouring it over a block of cream cheese and serving with pita chips, but it would also be delicious on turkey or even wrapped up in baked brie. If you find a new use for it, please share with me!