Tag Archives: baking

Bakin’ and Drankin’ with Tea

Happy Monday! I’m not feeling too happy that it’s Monday but maybe if I repeat that greeting enough, it’ll actually rub off on me. Enjoy today’s baking (gasp!) post and also be sure to check out my Healthy Page interview!

Have you ever heard of Alice’s Tea Cup? It’s an NYC restaurant (it seems all the best are there!) with a few locations. This place serves up both food and drinks made with tea (the closest thing we have to that here in CT is Tisane in Hartford, which is certainly excellent). Of course, they also serve tea on its own, but if I can make loose leaf tea at home then I’d much rather have a unique infusion creation!

All-star ingredient lineup.

Luckily the founders, Haley and Lauren Scott, have made it possible to have more than just Alice’s Tea Cup teas in your own home. They published the Alice’s Tea Cup: Delectable Recipes for Scones, Cakes, Sandwiches, & More from New York’s Most Whimsical Tea Spot, a cookbook full of recipes drinks and food fit for all meals, some with tea and some without.

I used Splenda instead of sugar and fat-free buttermilk instead of regular to lighten the recipe up a bit! We also skipped the heavy cream and sugar topping.

I can thank my friend Kim for the small amount of tea knowledge I possess…of course, the above copy of the cookbook is hers! She told me about it and we immediately made plans to get coffee at Daybreak and select one dish and one drink to whip up at a later date. Our requirements? A) Delicious (oops, according to my Foodstock education I just made an error in using that word!) and b) tea-infused. Perhaps being in Daybreak, a place with wonderful scones, inspired us to pick out the above recipe for Berry Bunch Tisane-Infused Scones. Or perhaps we just picked them out because we love scones and tea. Whatever the reason, a date was set, groceries were purchased (see the first photo), and we met up at Kim’s house to do some cookin’! (Please, don’t be TOO surprised to see me in the kitchen.)

Hello, I want that mug.

Kim didn’t have any tisane on hand, but her mom recommended a Celestial Seasonings Blueberry Breeze Green Tea (sadly looks like it’s been discontinued, but the website offers suggested replacements). As soon as we put it into the hot water to let it steep, we knew she’d chosen a winner! A pleasant blueberry smell filled the room and was a nice “background” to our scone-making.

Dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt) were combined in one bowl…

…and wet ingredients (buttermilk, vanilla extract, and the blueberry tea) were combined in another.

Oh lookin’ SOOO domestic!

Keeping the wet away from the dry for now, we had to work the butter and blueberries into the batter carefully with our hands (to avoid too much berry-squashing). Um, don’t have to ask me twice! This was so much fun.

NOW it was time to make a well in the dry ingredients, butter, and berries and add the wet ingredients.

Attacked it all with a rubber spatula…don’t worry, hands would get to come into play again. The rubber spatula was gentle enough to keep most berries un-squashed.

Fun dough playtime! We sprinkled a cutting board with flour and got to work cutting the dough into scone shapes.

Couldn’t resist.

There were no photos taken of the scone-cutting because it got VERY sloppy. The Scone Monster made an appearance though.

Even with her around, we still managed to get a few trays of only slightly haphazard-looking scones into the oven.

The scones baked and we got down to the drankin’ portion of our tea party. Tea and a little something else that is…

This couldn’t have been easier to make! Kim brewed the peach tea before we even started on the scones, and then we added the Splenda (instead of sugar) and stirred. It made a nice simple (literally) syrup that we were able to let cool and coagulate (fun word!) in the fridge while we worked on the food.

Once the syrup was done, all we had to do was add it to a pitcher of Prosecco with a splash of OJ, and we had Peach Tea Bellinis! We also had the idea to add our leftover berries to our drinks!

Despite a few incidents with the oven timer (AKA forgetting to set it, that’s what happens when your mind is stuck on bellinis…), our scones came out looking like REAL scones! So proud.

Pretty darn close, right?!

Side-by-side comparison.

We each took a bite and literally swooned. They turned out so well!!

Kim’s mom joined our little tea party, but her dad was too busy being a manly-man and attacking trees with a chainsaw to notice. Typical dad behavior!

We also asked Kim’s cat Cali to join us, but she not-so-politely declined.

“Too cool for tea parties. Don’t talk to me.”

Don’t worry, our meal wasn’t just carbs and alcohol and fruit. Kim’s mom donated some tasty rotisserie chicken she had on hand in the fridge. I had completely forgotten how much I love rotisserie chicken. A super random, but super lean and protein-filled, addition to our meal!

But maybe not as pretty as the rest of the meal….

Now you can continue to be impressed…it was a nice day, so we got a cute setup going outside. Complete with background music AKA Mr. Bronson’s chainsaw.

You like?

Baking buddies!

It was really rewarding to sit down with Kim and her mom, savor our drinks and scones, and enjoy and appreciate our work in the kitchen. OK, so I may be too lazy to cook, and I do still prefer to pay others to do it for me, but I understand the pride one gets from putting something special together!

I helped myself to a few scones, some chicken, and a few bellinis…when in Rome, right? Or, when in Kim’s backyard on a Sunday afternoon. And since I’m more likely to be there than Rome, I’m gonna roll with that.

Have you ever made a food item or alcoholic beverage that used tea as an ingredient? Or been to a restaurant that does the same?

What is your favorite kind of scone?

What’s the last baked good you made? The last cocktail?

C is for Cookies

WARNING: Today’s post contains more COOKIES! And it should be the last cookie-centric post for a bit, now that my cookie swaps have wrapped up. To balance things out a bit, I’ll talk about some stuff that isn’t cookie-related. I still know how to!

I had a most excellent workout yesterday in the form of a Step class. Non-stop combos, with cardio intervals mixed in. I performed the moves very well and only had to stop for a break a couple of times. I felt so energized, but by the end of the class I was ready for it to be over. I just love those workouts that boost the mood and provide those endorphins that put the benefits beyond just the physical. Such a fun class! I’ve been a bit of a Step monster lately (I went on Friday and Sunday as well) so I probably will not be doing another one of those classes until Saturday so that I can keep my routine fresh. We’ll see though – I try to do what I like.

This past weekend was full of all things excellent. Delicious coffee

…as well as one of the best Italian red wines I’ve had in awhile, courtesy of the best package store in town, Sonoma Wines & Spirits. I also participated in a tasting of sherry and port, which I wrote about on Facebook yesterday.

Lidia and I headed back to our alma mater and saw Connecticut Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” at Jorgensen. It was an excellent performance (thanks Groupon!) and also made me feel silly, because I didn’t realize that so many orchestra pieces that I know so well are from that ballet!

Gotta get as many holiday pics as possible.

The weekend wrapped up on Sunday night with an excellent dinner of chili topped with leftover coleslaw and black beans. And a festive tiny fork!

And now it’s game time AKA cookie time. I’d like to share the wonderful cookies I was sent by three talented bloogers, through the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap.

My first batch was a pleasant surprise because it arrived earlier than expected, and also on a day when I had been particularly ravenous! Faith of The Stirring Place made my day with her Smookies – NOT to be confused with Snooki.

Each s’mores cookie was different than the rest. Some were drizzled with white chocolate, some were dipped in milk chocolate and sprinkles. But each and every single one contained marshmallows and was honestly one of the best cookies I’ve ever had.

You’re drooling, right?

Faith called the cookies a “work in progress” in her note to me. I beg to differ – DON’T CHANGE A THING!

Meg of Eat, Drink, and Be Sperry wins the award for cutest packaging. Snowman wrapping paper, glittery Santa tag, and a green bow – need I say/show more?

She also wins the award for best smelling cookies. As soon as I opened the box, the minty aroma of her Double Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies hit my nostrils and had me ready for dessert.

They retained so much of their softness! Even my picky little brother loved these.

Last, but certainly not least, are Jamie of J-Fit‘s Cookies and Cream Cookies – once again, little brother approved! And more Caitlin-approved packaging – I love cookie tins! My mom practically stuck her nose in the tin, inhaled deeply, and proclaimed, “They smell like ice cream!!”

The card she sent was so cute as well. I love the design! These cookies were amazing – I really lucked out. 3 for 3 with great bloggers and great cookies!

Thank you to the three bloggers who sent me such amazing baking creations!

Which of these three do you think you’d like to try most?