Chai Lime Spritzer

Whaaat? Chai + lime? It sounds crazy but it’s truly delicious. And REFRESHING. Many moons ago I found a recipe in Bon Appetite Magazine for this drink and made it obsessively for a month. For reasons unknown, I stopped making it and forgot about it for the last five years. I couldn’t find the recipe anywhere online so I did my best to remember the proportions and make this lovely little drink again. And I succeeded!

It’s hard to describe this drink. We all know what chai tastes like and we know what lime tastes like, but they don’t seem like things that go together so it’s hard to imagine, I know. Chai is usually a creamy and/or warming/spicy experience. Refreshing is not a word that usually comes to mind. But let me tell you: this is one of the most refreshing drinks I’ve ever had.

It’s sweet, it’s tangy, it’s bubbly and has such an interesting depth of flavor from the chai even though you probably wouldn’t figure out it was chai if you didn’t know. Then someone would tell you and you’d be like, whaaat.

Ingredients:

  • 2 chai tea bags (I like Tazo)
  • 3 TBSP + 1 tsp lime juice
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • club soda

Prep:

  1. Bring 1 cup water to a boil and steep two tea bags for 7 minutes. Add sugar, stir and allow to cool in refrigerator.
  2. Meanwhile, juice your limes.
  3. Add lime juice to chai mixture. Separate chai lime mixture into glasses (makes enough for about 3 servings). Add ice and top with club soda (1/4 cup per glass).
  4. Enjoy!

<3 Becky

Mexican Hot Chocolate Coin Brownies

So blogging is hard. In some ways. I’ve really been loving it though. I love the process of making things, taking pictures and putting a post together. But it is a lot of work.

I’ve read blogs for years now and have always thought “I could do that”. And I can! I am! Sort of. I’m trying at least. My photos are prob lacking by most standards, but I’m really proud of some of them. I’m trying my very best to write from the heart and not try to sound like anyone but myself. Sometimes that’s embarrassing because I’m weird but everyone is, right? And while I am doing this because I truly like it and am not doing it for any fame or glory, of course there is a part of me that hopes other people will appreciate what I’m doing here too. Who wouldn’t.

I was SO excited about my last post (Conversation Heart Cookies), I thought it was such a cute idea, I loved my pictures and I thought it was perfect timing. In hindsight maybe I was a little too early with Valentines stuff, but Target does it. I thought for sure that post would catapult me into food blogger stardom. Surprise surprise: it didn’t. And after being disappointed for a second, I realized: that’s truly okay with me and I’m just going to keep doing my thing here. I still love my pictures and the cookies actually are amazingly delicious. Not my recipe, but still, they are. And I still like doing this whole blogging thing even if no one cares. And no, I didn’t really think the post was going to make me a star, I’m not that big of a fool, but I guess I thought it would receive more interest than it has. That’s all.

So here I am making these mexican hot chocolate coin brownies. Inspiration for this came from two places: a mexican chocolate peanut butter stout that Ricky likes and the chocolate coins my mom gives me in my stocking every year that I never eat and feel bad about.

I mentioned last week that I was throwing out all the half-eaten candies and stale cookies from Christmas, but I never toss the chocolate coins that quickly. Because A: I never even touch the coins and I feel less guilty throwing away something that is half-eaten rather than untouched. Yeah, there’s not really a B, that’s pretty much it. I’d already had the idea of making mexican hot chocolate brownies and thought why not just throw the coins in the brownies?! Then I thought of the name which reminds me of the wheel of fortune puzzles that were like two phrases combined by one shared word and I dug it. (i.e. mexican hot chocolate, chocolate coin brownies = mexican hot chocolate coin brownies).

My vision for these was to have the coins showing in the final product with the chocolate ganache drizzles in a classy, but slightly messy zig-zaggy pattern across the top but it looked lame so I just slathered the ganache on the top and dang these were super duper delish. These are not a fudgy brownie, more cakey but I thoroughly enjoyed them. They were rich, chocolatey, and not sickening sweet like brownies oft are. Plus you get a nice bit of warmth from cinnamon + cayenne. They are also gluten free!

Oh and I just came home and said: I’m just going to make up a recipe on the fly and see what happens. I figured I’ve made brownies, cakes and cookies enough to know what to do without thinking about it too much. Pretty much goes against the principles of baking but I think of it as playing music by ear. My husband can do that and it absolutely amazes me every time. It’s truly a gift. I think cooking/baking is like that for me…. to a point. I wasn’t perfectly measuring, I wasn’t thinking about any science behind what I was doing or why, I was just doing it by feel. Not saying I can just whip up any kind of baked good without a recipe but I can do brownies.

Here’s the coins before I covered them

Knew I shoulda used a piping bag for the ganache.

Ingredients:

  • 2 sticks butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup oat flour
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • chocolate coins if you desire
  • For the ganache…
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 5 tbsp milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of cayenne pepper

Prep:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350˚.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine melted butter + coconut sugar. Add two eggs, whisk to combine. (Make sure the butter is cool so the eggs don’t curdle). Add vanilla, salt, baking powder, oat flour + cocoa powder and whisk to combine.
  3. Pour batter into a prepared, 8 x 8 baking dish, smooth out with a spatula if need be.
  4. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out mostly clean (moist crumbs = good, raw batter = bad). If you want to use chocolate coins and want them studded in the brownies, remove the brownies after 15 minutes, gently press the coins into the top of the brownies (they should be mostly set at this point), then return to the oven for 5 additional minutes.

While the brownies bake, make the ganache:

  1. Using a double boiler, melt chocolate chips with butter + milk, stirring frequently. Remove from heat add cinnamon + cayenne. Taste and adjust cayenne/cinnamon to your taste.
  2. Spread or drizzle over the top of the brownies 🙂

<3 Becky

Fancy Chocolate Milk

Top 3 favorite beverages: hot tea, sparkling water and duh! Chocolate milk! I order it from Starbucks all the time and usually walk away feeling like a five-year old. But then I get over it because I have a delicious chocolatey drink to consume.

I’m calling this fancy chocolate milk because well, it has a party hat on. But also because it’s homemade – no processed syrups here! It’s essentially like making hot cocoa from scratch. Laura (sister) tuned me on to it and I’m really grateful she did. It’s makes the milk creamier and has a more rich chocolate taste than typical chocolate syrup. I’m not anti-processed syrup or anything, but it’s nice to have options.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 tsbp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • nice pinch of sea salt
  • 1 cup + 2 tbsp milk

Directions:

  1. Measure cocoa powder, sugar, vanilla + salt into a microwavable glass. Add 2 tbsp milk and stir with a mini whisk. You don’t have to use a mini whisk but it will be a huge help in minimizing any lumps of the cocoa mixture. It comes in handy for matcha too.
  2. Microwave for 20 seconds. Whisk vigorously again till mixture forms a smooth paste. Add 1 cup milk, stir. Add ice + whipped cream if you feel like it. Enjoy!

*serves one

<3 Becky

*This post contains an affiliate link

Conversation Heart Cookies

Today is the day I throw out the half-eaten boxes of candy, stale Christmas cookies and random goodies from whoknowswho. Even the wrapped stuff. I just want to get rid of all of it and start fresh. It’s 2019! New year new treats.

Now let’s talk about Valentine’s day! I know there are a lot of haters out there but I happen to like it. It’s just a fun/cute little holiday in my eyes. I like hearts and I like getting/giving little gifts like nail polish + pens. I don’t need roses or fancy restaurants. In-n-out and a brownie will do just fine thank you. Oh annnnnd conversation hearts! I always loved reading the weird things they put on those and I actually like eating them. But I like these cookies way more.

So, these cookies. I am not going to lie: these are not the easiest to make. Sugar cookies = easy. Icing = easy. Putting those blasted words on the cookies = not easy. BUT it is doable! And cute! And worth it! How is it done????

I used this sugar cookie recipe and it is great. They are soft and you don’t need to refrigerate the dough. Very much appreciated. So I googled a recipe for the sugar cookie icing and it was horrendously inaccurate. The ingredients were there but the proportions were not. The recipe I used left me with a giant lump of powdered sugar held together by corn syrup + milk. I continued to add corn syrup and milk by the teaspoon until it was about the consistency of elmer’s glue. Maybe a little thicker. I lost count and I’m sorry. If anyone is reading this (hi!) and really wants exact measurements, let me know and I will make it again and figure out exactly how much of everything I used. Or if you have a good recipe for sugar cookie icing already, just use that. This one sounds about right.

About the letters. These are the exact letter stamps I used but there are others. They come with a little tray you can arrange the words in but I didn’t use it. I found it too difficult to get each letter to come out that way. I stamped letter by letter. The biggest challenge is getting an even coat of food coloring on the stamp. I put about a 1/2 tsp of red food coloring on a food storage container lid (one that wouldn’t absorb the color). Added a little corn syrup and smeared it in as thin a layer as I could. I let it sit for a bit until it started to get a more sticky consistency. Not very scientific, I know. It is also a very good idea to sacrifice a cookie to use to practice on. I pretty much test-stamped each letter right before I used it. See below for the tools you will need, links to the recipes and general advice!

See my tester cookie?

Tools:

  • Cookie stamp
  • A lid or plate that won’t absorb food coloring
  • Heart cookie cutter set
  • Wilton tip no. 2
  • 1 piping bag for each color you want
  • Food coloring. If you want the same colors as me, you will need: yellow, red, blue + green.

Sugar cookies:

  • Use this recipe, I added the zest of 1 lemon to the dough and was very happy with that decision
  • Make the cookies and ice them the night before you plan to do the lettering. You want the cookies to be completely dry and you also want to save your energy so you can focus on the lettering.

Icing:

  • Try this and double it.
  • Once you have your icing the right consistency, separate into individual small bowls for each color (roughly 1/3 cup per)
  • 1 drop red + 1 drop blue = purple
  • 1 drop red = pink
  • 1 drop green = light green, 1 drop yellow = light yellow 🙂
  • I only have one no. 2 tip so I did each color on its own then cleaned out the tip to fill a new bag with the next color.
  • Once your bag is filled and ready to go, outline the edge each cookie you want that color. Then fill inside the line, it doesn’t need to be perfect. Spread the even out the filling with a butter knife. Repeat with each color and let the cookies set overnight.

Lettering:

  • Place 1/2 tsp red food coloring on a lid or plate (one that won’t absorb the color!) and 1/2 tsp corn syrup, mix and spread out in a thin layer (as best you can).
  • Allow it to sit for about 30 minutes. You want it to start to dry a little so that you can get an even coating of the color on each stamp.
  • Designate a test cookie
  • Check the consistency: dip a stamp in the color! TEST the stamp on your tester cookie. Is the color pooling in the edges or holes of the letter? Is it giving you an even coat? If you are getting a lot of pooling and the letter isn’t evenly coated, it may not be dry enough yet. Spread it around again and leave it a little longer.
  • The letters won’t look perfect but that’s okay! Actual conversation hearts are perfect either. Have fun!

<3 Becky

*This post contains affiliate links

Hearty Earth Bowl

Happy New Year! We had a really calm new years that involved puzzles, uno and just four additional guests. It was exactly what I wanted. I’m also really into puzzles now. Me and Ricky did another one tonight! There is something so satisfying about snapping those pieces together. I wasn’t planning on making a new years specific post but I guess this recipe qualifies since its healthy.

Some most people would probably look at this recipe and say this is a buddha bowl or a bliss bowl. And really, I think it is (although I don’t really no what the exact qualifications are for those). But I didn’t realize that until I started writing this post so I’m sticking with the title that came to me, Hearty Earth Bowl. It is pretty earthy after all. Root vegetables, cauliflower, peppers, brown rice… yeah, it’s earthy.

I’ve seen bliss bowls and buddha bowl recipes but those are not what inspired me to make this meal. It was this book! It’s not a cookbook per se, or your typical how-to book with tear-out check lists and stuff but it is full of good ideas and beautifully written suggestions on how to eat and cook well. There is also a theme of minimizing waste which I really appreciate.

In the chapter titled How to Stride Ahead, Tamar Adler talks about how she cooks a boatload of vegetables at once in order to use them throughout the week. I’m pretty sure she would never use the word boatload but she writes about her process for preparing all her vegetables for the week and gives little glimpses into how she might use them- sautéed greens + cream = gratin, roasted veggies can be thrown on a sandwich, used for soup, made into a warm roasted vegetable salad, etc. etc. etc. The chapter reinforced for me something that I already knew but sometimes forget: good food does not have to be complicated. With a little care and attention, something as simple as cauliflower and rice can become a beautiful and deeply satisfying meal.

I really loveeee meals like this. I sometimes refer to it as peasant food for its relative cheapness, un-flashy appearance and humble ingredients.

Nothing fancy here.
I want this right now!

So I’m going to give an ingredients list and directions to make a bowl just like mine, but like any grain/bliss/buddha/earth bowl, you can pretty much customize it however you want. Use different veggies, couscous instead of rice, a different drizzle, different cheese! Just a disclaimer- the pesto I used is not homemade, its Trader Joe’s vegan kale pesto. It’s so good and highly recommended.

Ingredients to make four bowls:

  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 3 small sweet potatoes
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups jasmine brown rice
  • 2 tsbp butter
  • grated parmesan (to use for adding to rice + topping in each bowl)
  • olive oil
  • salt, pepper, crushed red pepper
  • vegan kale pesto

Preparation:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400˚.
  2. Cook rice according to package directions or use a rice cooker to prepare rice. *When rice is finished cooking, add 2 tsbp butter (and salt if you wish) and stir to distribute.
  3. De-core, and slice cauliflower. Remove outer leaves and discard or save for stock. To cut: cut in half lengthwise, cut each half in half again, then remove the core by making a lengthwise cut at a diagonal angle. Cut florets into 1/4 inch slices. Arrange on baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt + pepper. Arrange in a single layer. Bake for 25-30 minutes, periodically testing for doneness.
  4. Cut sweet potato into one-inch pieces. Cut bell pepper into one inch squares. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt + pepper and bake for 20-25 minutes.
  5. Divide rice evenly amongst 4 bowls. Sprinkle each with parmesan and stir (best if the rice is still hot so it melts the cheese). Top each bowl with veggies, pesto, more parm and red pepper.

Notes:

  • Make this vegan: omit parm and butter.
  • I like my cauliflower to be very tender. Like no crunch at all and that’s what these directions will give you. If you like more bite, cook it for less time.

<3 Becky