Tea Time: Making Your Cup Just Right!

Whether bright and early in the morning or as the sun sets in the afternoon, the time is always right for tea! And with so many blends and flavours to choose from, it could go on 24/7 until you’ve tried them all. That being said, an important part of making that perfect cup to sip on comes not in the form of tea, but rather tools and add-ons!

That’s right, gone are the days where you just steep a bag, add some sugar and call it a day. Read below for the round-up and a few of my favourite must-haves!

Scoop it Up: The perfect cup is made with the right amount of tea. To avoid any measuring mistakes, don’t pour the loose-leaf blend straight out of the bag –that’s a no no! Instead, use a measuring spoon. You can find a variety at many specialty stores, like this one from David’s Tea.

Select a Good Steeper: Let’s face it, tea bags are great for the office and to-go cups when you’re on the run. But loose-leaf blends are much more flavourful and varied. The trick with that type however, is having a good steeper so that you don’t end up with crunchy bits in your serving (been there, done that)! My suggestion? This amazing Perfectea Maker from Teavana. With it, you just add your blend, pour hot water, and let sit. Then, you’re set to pour strained tea into the cup right through the bottom –now that’s tea-tastic!

Make it Savoury with Sweetener: Adding plain old sugar is cool, I guess. But there are so many other ways to make things sweet. Have a better cup with just a little bit of honey, or spoon some stevia. Whichever you prefer, try to stay away from artificial alternatives.

Style is served!

For the Love of Loaves!

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Of all desserts, loaves are probably the most versatile! You can have them with a latte in the A.M. or enjoy a slice (or two, no judging) on its own. Not to mention, there are so many combinations you can make. My favourite? A marbled mix with chocolate and vanilla –that way, you get the best of both worlds.

Sometimes when I make them from scratch however, the cake turns out a little too dry, or doesn’t rise as it should. So I came up with a quick and simple solution: start with a box of pre-packaged cake mix, and turn it into your own creation! To make this marbled loaf, here’s what you’ll need.

Ingredients:

1 box vanilla cake mix
3 eggs
1 1/3 cup of water
1/3 cup of oil
1 tbsp coca powder
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips

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Instructions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the sifted cake mix along with the eggs, water, and oil (as in quantities above or according to package instructions)
  3. Mix well eliminating any lumps.
  4. In a greased loaf pan, pour 2/3 of the cake mix.
  5. Add 3 tbsp of cocoa powder to the remaining mix, and pour over existing one in the pan in a straight line down the middle.
  6. Using a skewer or knife, swirl the mix around to create a marbled effect.
  7. Bake for about 25 minutes, then quickly sprinkle the chocolate chips on top.
  8. Bake for another 10-15 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean!

Style is served!

 

A Sweet Treat: Apricot Jam Cookies

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Do you get tired of chocolates and candy by the time Valentine’s Day rolls around? If yes, then we have one thing in common because why wait for one specific date to eat them when you can treat yourself all year long! If that’s the case and you’re ready to try something new, then these apricot jam cookies will be just right for the occasion. They are ideal for your sweetheart, wonderful co-workers, un-noisy neighbours, and just about everyone else who deserves a little something sweet.

To make your very own batch, see below for all you need to know!

Ingredients:

1/2 cup butter (softened, room temperature)
2/3 cup white sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 pinch of salt
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract1/4 cup apricot jam
2 tablespoons icing sugar

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Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the softened butter and sugar. Mix until well incorporated and sugar is no longer grainy.
  3. Add in the egg and vanilla essence, beating the ingredients together.
  4. Sift in the cup of flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix until dough is formed.
  5. Refrigerate for an hour, then cut into sections and roll flat.
  6. Use a heart-shaped cookie cutter to make 1/4 inch-thick cookies. Use a smaller heart-shaped cutter to make a hole in the middle of half your batch.
  7. Place on baking sheet 1/2 inch apart and bake for approximately 8 minutes.
  8. Let cool completely. Spoon a teaspoon of jam onto the centre of each (whole) bottom half, and sprinkle sugar onto the heart-cutout part. Stick the two together, and bite in!

There you have it, ready to eat in no time! With the tangy goodness of apricots and sweet taste of icing sugar, these cookies are guaranteed to be your jam.

 

Apple Juice All Grown Up: Spiced Apple Fizz

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When I think of apple juice, grade school lunches and pre-nap snack time come to mind. But this beverage doesn’t have to be stuck in the past. With a few spicy adjustments, you can take the drink from kid-friendly to all for adults. It’s the perfect pairing for holiday party meals and sophisticated enough for a grown-up palette.


Here’s how you can make your very own:


Ingredients: 


1 liter apple juice
1 tsp cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
1/2 orange, zest
1 can Sprite or 7 Up
8 oz chapmagne (choose a sweeter one like Martini)


apple_fizz
Instructions:


1. Pour the apple juice into a large pot and place over medium heat, along with the cinnamon sticks, cloves, and orange zest.
2. Bring to a boil and simmer for approximately 1-2 minutes. Let cool completely, then place into the fridge overnight so the flavours can further infuse.
3. Take out of the fridge and pour into a pitcher through a strain. Combine with Sprite or 7 Up and the champagne.


That’s all it takes –boil, cool, serve, and savour!


Style is served!

Sweet and Salty Candy-Corn Pops!

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Candy corn –it’s the classic sweet for fall, and you’ve already read my profession of love for it in this post here. It’s especially delightful when Halloween rolls around, so with only a few short days before the spooky holiday (and trick-or-treaters) show up at our doorstep, make a little something for everyone to enjoy.

These candy corn pops look a whole lot like the orange and yellow candy, but are actually made out of popcorn. Similar to rice crispies, they incorporate melted marshmallows and are ooey gooey good! Did I mention that they’re easy to make? Perfect  for when you’re in a pinch and rushing to put everything together for a fabulous Halloween party.

Ingredients:

680 grams small marshmallows
2 bags of sweet and salty popcorn, popped
Yellow and red food colouring

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Instructions:

  1. In a microwavable bowl, melt marshmallow for one portion (227 grams) in short 10 second intervals, stirring after each. Add the food colouring, stir, and mix in the popped popcorn until well covered. Let sit for 2-3 minutes, then transfer to the cake pan and form a ring, pressing tightly.
  2. Repeat with the orange and white, until you have the cake mold completely filled. Pat the entire mix tightly. Cover and let cool in the fridge for a few hours or overnight.
  3. Slice into 8 pieces, and gently press to round the corners with the middle of your palm. Insert barbecue skewers into each.

With that sweet & salty taste and extra crunch for kick, there’s no trick here, only a treat!

Style is served!

Chocolate Candy Corn Cookies!

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Halloween is without a doubt, the one holiday where it’s acceptable to stuff your face with sweets. After all, that’s what all the buzz is about, right? So take out the Tootsie Rolls, savour those Skittles, and chomp on the chocolate bar of your choice! But if you, like me, have a preference for things home-made, then this recipe is for you –candy corn included.

Not quite sure why I’m such a fan of the little tri-coloured nibs, but it may have something to do with their fun hues and creamy flavour. Throw chocolate into the mix, and that’s something I can’t resist. The result? Rich, chocolatey cookies sprinkled with everyone’s favourite fall treat. Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients:

1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup candy corn

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Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Mix the softened butter with sugar until well incorporated
  3. Add the two eggs, one by one, stirring well after each
  4. In a separate bowl, mix all of the dry ingredients
  5. Add to the butter-egg mix, and stir until creamy and lump-free
  6. Scoop table-spoon fulls onto a cookie sheet and bake for approx. 10-12 minutes. 5 minutes before they’re ready, take them out and sprinkle a couple of candy corns on top of each cookie, carefully pressing them in. Pop back in the oven for a few.

Let cool on the sheet, and transfer to the rack for just a little longer (bet that will be the hardest part!). Now you’re set to sit back and dig in.

Style is served!