I think I have an obsession, and its name is Chai.

Today’s Tea is a wonderful and totally unexpected mash-up of wonderment!

Celestial Seasonings’ Sugar Cookie Sleigh Ride is my all time favorite holiday tea. Mashed up with Bigelow’s Vanilla Chai Tea, these two blend to make a gingerbread cookie tea that is perfect for all your cold weather and holiday moments. This amazing combo doesn’t even need sugar or honey…it is wonder straight up! Enjoy!

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Let’s Celebrate 2014 and Ring in 2015 with a cup of Chai!

There is so much to say about a Chai.

I love the flavors, the smell, and how it makes me feel like I am sitting around a fire at Everest Base Campbase camp ready to tackle  the mountain with my trusty Sherpa. Chai is a way that I escape the here and now and go on a flavor fantasy. I think it is the Cardamom that is the kicker for me. That particular spice is not something that I generally eat or use in my Southern Cuisine, so perhaps cardamom is the jewel in my fantasy quest?

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Check out Stash Tea’s booklet. A Week of Chai: 7 Days of Chai Recipes

Today I’m drinking mine black, but chai is versatile. You can all kinds of wonderful additions to your cup and make it come alive. Milk or cream of all kinds like coconut, almond, or even rice, makes the flavor less sharp. But what truly brings out the essence of the Chai is sugar. This is where experimentation comes to play. You can use anything. My favorites are honey and homemade vanilla syrup, but the paths to Chai Enlightenment are endless…blue agave, malt, maple, stevia, sweetened condensed milk, and the list goes on and on.

Brew the Chai strong…don’t worry unless you are like me and drink it black, you really can’t overdo the brew on this one.

“Chai is Love in a cup!”

It is, so I give you Chai for the New Year! Love and Peace on Earth in a cup. 🙂

todays tea week of chai

5 Recipe Series Available Worldwide for the Holidays!

The first two books in the 5 Recipes series are ready to help you through the holidays. Find everything you need to keep your guests and family well fed and happy! Available for Kindle, Worldwide at Amazon.com.

Five Recipes Every Southern Cook Should MasterArmed with the basic five recipes and their variations you will impress your family, even the mother-in-law, prepare foods that are easy on the budget yet tasty, be prepared for any Southern event.

5 Slow Cooker Recipes Every Southern Cook Should Master: With these slow cooker recipes you will impress your guests and have the time to spend with them. All the recipes are quick to prepare and require little to no supervision. Build your Southern Kitchen Repertoire with these great eats!

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Release Day…Five Recipes Every Southern Cook Should Master

Five Recipes Every Southern Cook Should Master...Armed with only these five recipes you will impress your family, even the mother-in-law, prepare foods that are easy on the budget yet tasty, be prepared for any Southern event.

Five Recipes Every Southern Cook Should Master…Armed with only these five recipes you will impress your family, even the mother-in-law, prepare foods that are easy on the budget yet tasty, be prepared for any Southern event.

The very first Tea and Cornbread book is available on Amazon for Kindle download. I hope this book helps new and established cooks to get in and out of the kitchen in record time, all the while dazzling your family and friends with amazing dishes.

I use each of these 5 recipes with my family and they are husband and teen approved. Enjoy!

Today’s Tea: The Republic of Tea, Hibiscus Watermelon

This tea is fabulous! And I don’t say that lightly. I am sooooooo picky when it comes to herbal or flora teas: they really have to knock my socks off.

The Republic of Tea Hibiscus Watermelon20140528_131609From the moment the tea hit the water there were moments of tea-geek experiences. As the tea steeped the scent of fresh melon hits you, not like it knocks you down, but it is very present. Then the water starts to take on of red tinted swirls, and that is when the apples chime in along with the blackberry.

HibiscusWatermelon-AAH-2 (1)The Nigerian Hibiscus truly made a heady brew almost like a punch that you would serve at a chic wedding reception. As a matter of fact that is a great idea for this tea. Add a bit of sparkling apple to this and you are set! I highly recommend this Hibiscus tea and cannot wait to try the others that The Republic of Tea offers.

The best part: “A donation of $1 from the sale of each tin will be donated to Action Against Hunger, a global nonprofit working to end hunger by creating sustainable food solutions and water sanitation services to communities faced with water scarcity. ”
The Republic of Tea established a partnership with Action Against Hunger and their Sip for Clean Water initiative in 2013, introducing the Watermelon Hibiscus Superflower™ Tea.
They offer a 
Hibiscus Watermelon Iced Tea One Cuppa™ for single service beverage machines to further support Action Against Hunger’s mission.

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Leftover Fix: Roasted Green Bean Carbonara

This leftover fix is from a simple meal I made for me and the hubs. We had pasta with a garlic and black pepper dressing, and a pan of my Roasted Green Beans. (In the original recipe I had ranch seasoning, these were seasoned with paprika, onion, and salt/pepper.)  We had just a bit leftover so I decided to create something new for my lunch. I added 2 slices of deli ham chopped, 1 heaping tablespoon of grated Parmesan cheese, and one wedge of Laughing Cow Light Creamy Swiss. I took this to work and microwaved it for just at 3 mins.

It is delicious! This will become a new favorite of mine…makes me want to make another pan of green beans. I hope you enjoy the Roasted Green Bean Carbonara as much as me.

Don’t throw out your leftovers, give them a Makeover!Roasted Green Bean Carbonara

Tea Review: Nina’s Paris Tea, Earl Grey

I was contacted by Dorian Roque Community Manager and Business Developer at Nina’s Paris USA and was sent two shipments of samples one from Dorian and another from Laurent Caravel who runs the online stores for the US Market.logo

Nina’s Teas USA description of their Earl Grey: Bergamot from Sicily. The smoothness of Keemun together with the freshness of bergamot. An ancient recipe that was handed down by a high dignitary of China to Earl Charles Grey. A classic that definitely shouldn’t be missed.

“Nina’s began in 1672 when Pierre Diaz created ‘La Distillerie Frères’. It was the first company to distill lavender essential oils in France and became renowned for their art of creating fragrances.” Today they follow the traditions handed down from Diaz to create flavored teas. “Nina’s company name is in homage to Mrs. Nina Diaz, a strong and passionate woman who loved roses.”

Although they have nearly 350 years in the European market, Nina’s Paris Tea is still relatively new on the American market. Currently you can visit Nina’s Paris Tea Store, 4582 NE 2nd Avenue, Miami Design District. The online options are Amazon and Nina’s Etsy store. You should also check out their Facebook page for specials and the latest news from Paris.

Ninas Paris Tea Early Grey leavesEarl Grey is black tea scented with bergamot oil that is extracted from a pear-shaped Mediterranean citrus. The tea brews up a deep amber cup with a light citrus flavor and fragrance. The tea leaves in traditional Earl Grey are black teas of Chinese or Indian origin. Nina’s uses the Chinese Keemun (Qimen red tea harvested in Spring 2013) a black Chinese tea with a soft wine/fruit flavor. The choice of using Keemun creates a softer cup of Earl Grey than is expected, but to true tea lovers it isn’t a surprise as Keemun is used as the base for many English Breakfast tea blends. The natural Sicilian Bergamot perks up the deeper notes of the Keemun but not with the powerful punch that bergamot has the reputation. I would actually call this tea, soft.
four steepings ninas paris earl grey
The tea is good and can take a long brew time and still not get bitter. I brewed one teaspoon of leaves in 6 ounces of water 190-200 degrees Fahrenheit. Nina’s recommends 212 degrees (boiling point). The cup yielded was deep caramel colored, and even at the 3rd brewing still yielded a deep color. On the first sip I was impressed with the clear note of bergamot that lingered on my palate. I actually felt a bit of cooling on the roof of my mouth that I normally associate with a mint tea, but none of the mint flavor. It is my impression that the light fruity flavor of the Keemun is why this blend has a more muted bergamot flavor. I enjoyed 4 separately brewed cups. Each one brewed true to color but the bergamot did soften with each cup. By the 4th cup the bergamot was not present.

All-in-all I would highly recommend this tea. However, if you are looking for a bergamot that stands up and announces itself, then this tea will not fit the bill. Nina’s Paris, Earl Grey is an excellent cup of softer bergamot that is flavorful and good at all temperatures, even as we do down South, on ice.

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Todays Tea Ninas Paris Earl Grey