Warm Up With a Homemade Gingerbread Tea Latte

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Is there any part of the country that isn’t  having a cold spell right now? The frigid weather in Richmond (among other things) is keeping me from leaving my warm toasty house today. I absolutely have to share with you this delicious beverage that I concocted to stay warm this weekend, as well as an ingenious method I discovered for frothing milk without a fancy machine! This recipe and method are so easy that even a one handed blogger on pain medication (I) can do it!

If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, you may have picked up on a post from about a month ago in which I announced I had had a bike accident while on vacation in Asheville, North Carolina.

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I spent the night in the hospital for observation due to the head trauma, had the bones set back in place, had my bumps, bruises, and road rash cleaned up, and then I was released the next morning. We cut the vacation short, returned to Richmond, and about a week later, I had surgery to have plates inserted in my left wrist and right hand. I have been recovering ever since, and both hands have been pretty useless for five weeks, which is why the blog has been quiet since October. Now that I am starting to use the computer again, and I was able to convince my husband Kyle to type for me, I am finally able to post an update!

Thanks to everyone who tweeted and commented messages of support and positivity while I have been recovering from the accident and surgery. Thanks also to Kyle for helping me out with this post, not to mention ALL the other things he has had to help me out with since the big fall. I can’t wait to reschedule our Asheville 1-year anniversary trip once I’m healed (and out of medical bill debt. . .) so we can go back and do all the things we missed out on the first time.

Now. . . on to my super simple Tea Latte recipe! The recipe calls for five ingredients that you probably already have in your kitchen.

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My Gingerbread Tea Latte features Celestial Seasonings Gingerbread Spice tea, but you could use any tea you have on hand to make your own version. The other four ingredients are: milk, pure vanilla extract, ground cinnamon, and agave syrup (you may substitute the sweetener of your choice).

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I found the milk frothing method online at theKitchn.com and I couldn’t believe it worked until I tried it myself. The yield and quality of foam is less than what you get from a steam wand on a commercial grade espresso machine, but for making one or two drinks at home, it certainly does the trick.

  • First, you pour your cold milk into a glass jar and secure the lid. Make sure you use a jar large enough that the milk fills the jar no more than halfway.
  • Second, shake the jar as hard as you can for about 30 seconds.
  • Third, remove the lid (if metal) and replace with plastic wrap or a microwave-safe material.
  • Fourth, microwave the milk until hot to stabilize the foam and heat up the liquid for serving.
  • Last, pour into your drink, holding back the foam with a spoon, and then scooping the foam on top of the beverage.

I was very impressed with the results!

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The foam held up for at least twenty minutes while I photographed and then sipped the drink. Four ounces of milk yielded two to three ounces of foam, which was a great proportion for my latte.

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The foam even held up pretty well after I topped it with cinnamon (which almost always eats away at the volume of bubbly froth at the top of a beverage). I hope you enjoy this delicious drink that tastes like fresh baked gingerbread in a fraction of the time (and for a fraction of the calories!).

Gingerbread Tea Latte

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Serves 1

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag Celestial Seasonings Gingerbread Spice herbal tea
  • 2 teaspoons agave syrup (or equivalent sweetener of your choice)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup 1% milk (or the milk of your choice)
  • dash of ground cinnamon

Preparation:

  1. Heat water in a tea kettle. Add 1/2 cup hot water to a mug with the tea bag. Steep for 4 minutes, then remove tea bag.
  2. While tea is steeping, froth the milk. Add cold milk to a jar and shake vigorously, with lid on, for 30 seconds. Replace lid with microwave safe lid or plastic wrap and microwave for 45 seconds on high.
  3. To the tea concentrate, add agave (or sweetener), and vanilla, and stir.
  4. Using the back of a spoon to hold back the foam, carefully pour the milk into the tea concentrate, then use the spoon to scoop the milk foam on top of the drink.
  5. Top with a dash of cinnamon and drink while hot.

Enjoy, and stay warm!

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Farmers’ Market 07.09

When did it become July?!

I guess I missed it while I was working my butt off last week! Thanks for your patience and for your nice, encouraging comments here and on Twitter. In case you missed the update, I ended up getting called into work on Saturday the 30th and then I disappeared for a little while as I focused solely on my job responsibilities during a bit of a week-long emergency. I missed the South of the James farmers’ market, so no cooking or shopping recap for last week. But I did hit the farmers’ market this past weekend, as temperatures rose to 100 degrees, and I picked up some seasonal produce while I was there. It was pretty hot, but I felt like I had missed out on my market time, so I made the trek over there with Kyle and bought a few things before the sun melted me completely.

Here’s this week’s loot!

  • Zucchini (Victory Farms)
  • Carrots (Victory Farms)
  • Cucumbers (Walnut Hill)
  • Heirloom tomato (Pleitez Produce)
  • Poblano peppers (Pleitez Produce)
  • Bok choy (Manakintowne Specialty Growers… I think?)
  • Tat soi (Manakintowne Specialty Growers… I think?)

The tat soi is supposed to be similar to bok choy, but less bitter. I’m planning to do a little taste testing experiment later this week. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Another thing I missed last week was the 4th of July. I heard some fireworks while I was on the computer one night but didn’t really see anything. I made up for it the following weekend with a little impromptu cookout with friends, so it was all good. I did make a little 4th of July holiday gift to you, but didn’t get a chance to post it so here it is, albeit a little late!

My red, white and blue roasted potatoes turned out a little more pink, white and purple than I intended, but they were super delicious. I simply cut red, white and purple potatoes into quarters, then tossed them in olive oil and salt, and roasted them in the oven. And I didn’t use just plain old salt. Almost as American as apple pie is this Applewood Smoked Salt from the Spice Diva.

This week will probably have a bit of a catching up theme, as I have a lot of things to share with you that are all a little belated.

Vegology turned two years old while I was living under a rock last week, so I have that post for you.

I also have a few simple recipes up my sleeve that I need to write up, so I’ll pick one out of a hat and post it this week as well.

If I’m feeling really ambitious, I might show you some updated photos of my vegetable garden. Spoiler alert: there are no vegetables. Thank God for farmers!

Thanksgiving a la Vegology

There were a lot of firsts this Thanksgiving. And it was the best Thanksgiving I can remember.

It was the first time I hosted Thanksgiving dinner at my place.

It was the first time I spent Thanksgiving with my best friend.

It was the first time the Ravens had a Thanksgiving day game.

Because Kyle and I had to fit in three separate Thanksgiving family events, we did a lot of schedule shuffling before we compromised on an itinerary. The result was that we got to see almost all of our loved ones during the holiday, even though our families live 200 miles apart. It was delightful to visit with everyone, and I owe a major THANK YOU to my mom, dad and sister, who drove down to Richmond from Baltimore to make it all possible.

This is not Thanksgiving at my house. This is a cruise ship.

We started by driving out to a horse farm in Caroline County. There Kyle’s dad and his wife hosted a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. I had a drink and nibbled on sides, because I had another meal to eat that night.

Then I drove back to Richmond to prepare dinner #2 with my family and Kyle. Three out of five people in attendance are not fans of turkey, so we knew from the start that we weren’t going the traditional route. The only requirement from my family was that we give our undivided attention to the Ravens game at 8:20 PM. My biggest challenge was that I was away from home until about 6:30 PM so I did not have time to prepare and serve an elaborate meal before kickoff.

I had the idea in the shower last week. I always come up with my best ideas while in the shower. I decided to do a slow cooked vegetarian chili (normal football fare in my home) plus a baked potato bar with all the toppings we could possibly want on our spuds.

This is where I want to make a joke about how it was “totally tuber-ular” but I won’t.

Okay, maybe I did just make that joke. Sorry. Can I make it up to you with some steamy chili shots?

The feast consisted of:

  • Baked sweet potatoes, baked russet potatoes
  • Vegetarian chili
  • Steamed broccoli
  • Homemade cheddar cheese sauce
  • Shredded Monterey jack cheese
  • Sliced avocado
  • Chopped fresh cilantro
  • Sour cream
  • Crumbled vegan “bacon”
  • Sliced jalapeños
  • Salsa
  • Hot sauce
  • On the side: orange glazed baby carrots

I think everyone loved the tater bar, and it got us fed just in time for the main event. I highly recommend it if you need to make a no-hassle dinner for a crowd. Less time in the kitchen means more time for family and friends!

I failed to take a picture of all of us in our gear, so I’ll show you one from the 2010 playoffs instead.

Again, cruise ship.

I also failed to take a picture of this amazing dessert that I made: Pear Cranberry and Ginger Snap Crumble. Topped with some local Homestead Creamery vanilla ice cream, it was a smash hit!

The next day, all five of us headed over to Kyle’s aunt’s house for an Italian dinner for ten. We had so much fun at the kids table. Mind you, all “kids” were over the age of 22.

We had a delicious dinner, followed by party games and a movie. I learned a lot about our families during a round of The Game of Things. I’m going to leave it at that.

I am so thankful that I was able to be surrounded by the people I love for the whole weekend! I wouldn’t have changed a thing. Hope you had a tasty and memorable Thanksgiving weekend too.

 

Vegetarian Stuffed Acorn Squash and Thanksgiving Recipe Roundup

Thank you to everyone who commented with congratulations on our new home. Kyle and I are very excited and hope to move in by Christmas. Can you believe we are nearing the end of 2011? I feel like summer was not that long ago and here we are a week before Thanksgiving. Have you planned your menu yet?

I was thinking about vegetarian “special occasion” main dishes last week and decided to mix things up with a new grain. You might recall that barley was served on the vegetarian plate at the Foodbuzz Festival 2011 gala dinner. I had tasted barley in soup before, and of course I’d also had it in beer but I had never tried barley as a side dish before the Foodbuzz Festival. So when I wanted to make a quinoa stuffed acorn squash last week and discovered that I had to run to the store for some more quinoa, I decided to pick up barley instead.

This dish was spicy, nutty and a little sweet. It’s a protein powerhouse with garbanzo beans and barley in every bite. I found it to be very filling and delicious. Served with a fresh salad or sauteed greens, this stuffed squash is a hefty vegetarian main dish that is perfect for Thanksgiving.

And in case you need even more inspiration for your holiday menus, here are my top vegology recipe picks for a very veggie holiday weekend.

Veggie Pot Pie – all the comfort, none of the meat

Cauliflower Steaks with Chimichurri Sauce – very scalable and creative, can serve two or twenty two

Butternut Squash with Spinach and Feta – a great side dish for potluck meals

Pumpkin Chili – football anyone?

And here is a new one to add to the list:

Barley Stuffed Acorn Squash (serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • 2 large acorn squash, halved and seeded
  • cooking spray
  • 1 cup uncooked barley
  • 2-1/2 cups vegetable broth, divided
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 4 carrots, sliced
  • 1 – 15 oz. can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup raisins (or dried cranberries if you wish)
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Prepare a rimmed cookie sheet with cooking spray. Place squash halves cut side down on cookie sheet. Bake 30-40 minutes or until tender.
  3. While the squash is baking, prepare the filling. Heat barley and 2 cups of the vegetable broth in a saucepan over medium heat until boiling, then cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Heat olive oil in a medium pan over medium heat. Add garlic and saute for 1 minute or until fragrant. Add carrots and cook 4-5 minutes. Then add garbanzo beans, raisins, curry powder and cumin. Stir to combine.
  5. Add the remaining 1/2 cup of vegetable broth to the pan with the vegetables and let simmer until vegetables are tender and liquid has reduced.
  6. When the barley is finished cooking, combine with vegetable mixture in a large bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  7. When the acorn squash is done baking, flip the halves over and butter the flesh. Sprinkle the brown sugar over the insides of the squash halves. Plate and fill with barley mixture, serving one squash half per person.