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Azteca Fire

My mom got this new tea for Christmas from my brother. There are a few other kinds as well but Azteca Fire was the one I tried. It smells amazing, it’s a herbal tea with strawberries, chilies, apple, cocoa and chocolate pieces.

It’s really delicious, the flavour isn’t overly fruity or strong but really pleasant, and it has a touch of tingly heat in the back of your mouth after each sip. I added a bit of honey and it really brought out the sweet chocolate and fruit flavours. As for the cost, I got to try it for free but it is a bit pricey (the website’s below, you can see the cost per ounce). If herbal tea is really your thing, though, I would strongly reccommend it, it’s one of the nicest I’ve had.

My brother ordered the tea (and this teapot and cups) online from Teavana.


February 10, 2008 at 8:44 pm 2 comments

Welcome home salad

I went home over the weekend for the first time since Christmas. The first thing I did was make this salad.Then I made three dozen cupcakes and supper, but that’s for another post (or two).
This was just a side salad for supper (we had pasta that my mom made), but I made it interesting by adding warm toasted pine nuts right before serving. Everyone loved it and there wasn’t any left, so I’d say it was a pretty successful salad.

Spinach Salad
with pine nuts

Some baby spinach, washed
2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 english(seedless) cucumber, chopped
pine nuts, lightly toasted

I toasted my pine nuts by putting them in a 350 F oven for just a minute or two until they were lightly browned.

February 10, 2008 at 1:48 am Leave a comment

Introducing…The Swedish Chef

My friend Martin and I made cookies the other night. He was born and raised in Sweden, and he’s teaching me to speak Swedish while I teach him to cook. (Jag lär Martin att laga mat!)
Here he is stirring the cookie dough:

This time we made chocolate chip cookies with some neat chocolate chips I picked up around Christmas time that are white chocolate and milk chocolate swirls.
The chips were really really pretty, so I was sad they didn’t show up in the cookie very much(maybe I should place one on top of each cookie next time?).
They tasted great though, very very sweet.
I adapted a standard chocolate chip cookie recipe for these, actually more than I intended to. I only had baking powder on hand in my dorm room (oddly enough), and neither store we visited to pick up eggs and milk had baking soda. So I found out that you can substitute baking powder for soda, but you have to use about 3 times as much. It’s recommended that you reduce the salt to make up for it though.
The cookies still came out a little flat, but they rose enough for me, and I didn’t have to wait until I found baking soda to bake.
1 cup butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated (white) sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda (or 3 tsp baking powder)
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
Cream the butter with the sugars, the eggs and the vanilla. Mix up the dry ingredients and then combine with the wet. Stir in the chocolate chips last. Bake at 375 F for about 8-12 minutes.
The cookies didn’t last very long…we made 48, around 9:30pm, and none survived past midnight.

February 4, 2008 at 5:01 am 1 comment

Vanilla Bean Pancakes

When I went to Texas in December 2006 I visited the Penzeys store in Dallas. I love their spices so much and brought back tons of great stuff like my Vietnamese Cassia cinnamon and Madagascar vanilla beans. It took me over a year to use one of my beans. I was scared I’d ruin whatever I made with them and hate myself for it, but on New Year’s Eve I had a craving for some pancakes and I decided to break out the vanilla.
The pancake recipe I normally is actually called Griddle Cakes from Out of Old Nova Scotia Kitchens. They’re pretty thin, unlike the big cake-y pancakes that most restaurants serve. These are adapted from that base recipe with a few changes, including the vanilla.
Vanilla Bean pancakes
2 eggs
2 1/4 cup milk
1/3 cup melted butter
vanilla bean

2 cups flour
4 tsp baking powder
3 tbsp brown sugar
some freshly grated nutmeg
pinch salt

I got the vanilla into these by letting the vanilla bean infuse into the milk first. Then you whisk the eggs with the milk and add the melted butter. Whisk or sift the dry ingredients in a separate bowl, then combine the two and gently stir the batter until almost smooth.

The pancakes turned out pretty well. However, vanilla bean is expensive, so if money is a factor just put in some vanilla extract – they’re still awesome pancakes. The vanilla flavour is really nice – not overpowering in a cheap, yellow, “french vanilla” ice cream kind of way, it’s subtle but great.

I served mine with vanilla bean whipped cream (used the same bean – you can re-use it  a few times. I made some vanilla sugar too), maple syrup and leftover raspberry sauce (from the cheesecake). I wish the camera had been able to pick up on the pretty vanilla specks better – but they looked really good, especially with the whipped cream.

February 4, 2008 at 12:24 am Leave a comment

Festive Chocolate-orange Cheesecake

This is actually my own recipe! Very exciting.
I made this cheesecake in December for a family get-together. I planned to make a white chocolate velvet cheesecake. Only we didn’t have white chocolate, and neither did the grocery store. So I decided to change it up, and used bitter and semi-sweet chocolate. Also the original recipe called for some lemon juice, but I replaced it with about twice as much orange juice, and threw in the zest too. Chocolate-orange is a great combination anyway, and we always have Terry’s Chocolate Oranges around at Christmas, so it was festive.
I was a bit nervous serving a cheesecake that I’d never made or had before to a lot of people, but it turned out great and people seemed to really enjoy it. The texture is super smooth and not too dense or heavy feeling. This recipe’s actually healthier than the average cheesecake, mostly because I used light cream cheese and fat-free sour cream (it’s what we had). Also there’s no crust, which makes it easier to bake AND elminates some extra fat and simple carbs (aw… but really, you don’t miss the crust).

Oh yeah, I paired it with a great raspberry sauce too. (It was a bag of frozen raspberries, thawed and strained. Then lemon juice and a bit of sugar to taste.)

Chocolate Orange Cheesecake
(with raspberry sauce)

3 squares bittersweet chocolate
3 squares semi sweet chocolate *
2 pkgs light cream cheese (softened)
1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp orange juice
zest of an orange
3/4 cup fat free sour cream
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
top layer:
1 square bittersweet chocolate ->melt this, then add these:
-1 cup sour cream
-2 tbsp sugar
-1 tsp vanilla

Melt chocolates together in saucepan
Beat cream cheese, sugar, orange juice and zest until blended. Add in chocolate, sour cream, eggs and vanilla, beat well until smooth. Pour batter into lightly greased springform pan. Bake at 450 for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 250 and bake for 30 minutes. Pour on the topping and smooth, then bake for an additional 5 minutes. Chill cake until completely cooled. Voila!

* if you have just one kind of chocolate use 6 squares of that, I just used what was in the pantry.

February 3, 2008 at 9:26 pm 1 comment

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