Make your own Iced Tea Lattes! [Vegan]

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Homemade iced tea lattes. My new lifeblood, especially with summer upon us.

By some Berkeley miracle it’s 90 degrees out today, and being the heat-hater I am, I’d usually be miserable right now. But thanks to the fact that I’ve been sipping iced chai tea lattes all day, I feel great. This revelation also helps me meet my new goal to have at least 2 cups of black tea a day.

Here’s how that goal started: I realized that, with finals coming up and the fact that I’ll have one single day to pack and move out of my apartment, my stress levels are out of control. I’ve had all sorts of insane cravings–even after eating a big meal–am having trouble sleeping, and my skin is really upset with me. After doing some research, I stumbled across studies that show that those who drank black tea regularly had lowered cortisol after stressful activities than those given a placebo, even despite the caffeine content. Apparently, this is thanks to the polyphenols in black tea; I’ve been drinking tons of green and herbal tea lately, so I decided it was high time to start reintroducing black tea to my daily routine. Even if it isn’t a miracle stress solution, it can’t hurt!

And what better way than to make it cool, refreshing, and creamy?

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I know this might be far too simple to call a recipe, but for blog-organizing purposes, I’m calling it one anyway!

Ingredients

  • Black tea: loose leaf or in a bag. (My favorites so far : Chai, French vanilla, Irish breakfast, Lady Grey)
  • Your favorite kind of milk (I use soy)
  • Sweetener (optional)
  • Other flavorings like vanilla, lemon, etc. if desired
  • Ice cubes

Directions

1. Brew a pot or pitcher of your tea according to the directions for that type. For example, white and green teas usually should be steeped at lower temperatures. Put the pot/pitcher in the fridge, and let cool. To speed it up, add ice cubes after ~1 minute of brewing.

2. Once room temperature or cooled, pour some of it into glass, add a splash of milk, and sweetener if you want it. Add in ice cubes, and enjoy! Alternatively, if you used a pitcher and left extra room, you can add the milk, ice cubes, and sweetener straight to that.

I also like to dilute it with more water because often the hot tea is quite strong, but that’s just personal preference. (It also makes my original brewed pot last longer.)

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Who need Starbucks when you can make all their drinks at home, perfectly to your tastes?

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Recipe: Hazelnut Butter [Vegan]

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Something about being home from college makes me want to spend all my time experimenting in the kitchen. Perhaps it’s the free time, perhaps it’s the availability of actual cooking equipment like food processors and stand mixers; either way, I keep coming up with all sorts of concoctions.

One of my favorites from this spring break was homemade hazelnut butter–I’m a huge nut butter fanatic. I usually stick to almond and peanut butters, but saw a packet of hazelnut butter at the store and had to go home and try it for myself. A few toasted hazelnuts later and I was in nut butter heaven: it was rich, creamy, bursting with flavor, and like nothing I’ve had before. It’s also a great base for your own homemade vegan nutella: just add cocoa and sweetener!

I then proceeded to come up with a hazelnut-butter cinnamon roll recipe, but I’ll save that one for another post.

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Makes about a cup of butter.

Ingredients

  • 2 cup hazelnuts
  • 2/3 cup soy, almond, or coconut milk
  • 2 tbsp coconut sugar
  • Optional: cinnamon, cocoa powder, maple, or other flavorings

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread hazelnuts on baking sheet and toast for 5 minutes.

2. Place nuts between 2 paper towels and rub together to remove the shells. You may have to take off a few stragglers by hand.

3. Put de-shelled nuts (leaving a few on is fine, but the shells are bitter) into a food processor, and process for about 10 minutes, until it becomes smooth and liquid. You’ll need to scrape down the sides of the processor every minute or so. If you’re having trouble getting it to go from fine powder to liquid, add the milk and continue processing until smooth.

4. Add the coconut sugar, flavorings, and milk if you haven’t already, and process until combined.

5. Optional: Add 1 part milk to 1 part almond butter, and blend until combined. You’ll essentially be halving the calories if you use a low-cal milk!

Enjoy it on fruit, bread, in pastries, or by the spoonful!

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Thanks for reading,

Michelle

Recipe: Avocado Berry Smoothie [Vegan]

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People are always telling me how much they love avocados. I suppose it’s because I’m a foodie, but self proclaimed avocado fanatics tend to bring it up in conversation more than I’d expect.

But in my book, you aren’t a true avocado fanatic until you’ve embraced the avocado smoothie. Or the mousse. Or any other delectable sweet avocado concoction that, when mentioned, elicits a look of disgust from the aforementioned “avocado fanatics.” It’s as if non-savory avocado dishes are some kind of taboo; but come on people, they’re fruits!

My family, who are pretty neutral on the avocado-loving spectrum, thought I was crazy when I mentioned that avocado smoothies should be a thing. After two minutes searching for recipes, I found that it was indeed a thing, and decided to make my own: basically just avocado and milk (with some flavorings of course). And my family actually ended up liking it.

This recipe is a slightly more complex version of my original avocado smoothie (which I might also be sharing if people want it), and is pretty much a healthy-skin cocktail: it’s chock full of healthy fats and antioxidants. I’d imagine it’d also be a great pre-workout snack because of the combination of available carbs and fats!

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Makes one smoothie.

Ingredients

The amounts are estimates, so play around with the ratios until you get your favorite combos!

  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1/2 cup frozen mixed berries (or fresh berries + 3 ice cubes)
  • 1/2 banana, pre-sliced and frozen
  • 1-3 tbs protein powder (optional)
  • 1 tbs acai powder (optional, but delicious)
  • 1/4 cup soy yogurt
  • 1/3 cup non-dairy milk (or more to your desired consistency)
  • Dash vanilla
  • ~1 tsp lemon (or lime juice). If you have a bitter avocado, add more to taste
  • Agave nectar if desired
  • Handful of kale, oats, or other add-ins

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Directions

Combine all ingredients in blender, and blend until smooth, without chunks of frozen fruit or ice. Play with the amounts to find  your favorite ratios!

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A Churros ‘n’ Chai 2014 Food Photography Calendar

I’ve been selling snail calendars for years in various places, but I realized I needed to find a way to incorporate my more recent passion–yes, you guessed it, food–into my print-selling endeavors. I finally decided I wanted to put to use photos of various baked things I’ve made throughout the year, so I organized them into a calendar for my fellow foodies out there!

Whether it’s for yourself, a chef friend, or for someone who just has a sweet tooth, it’ll make a perfect addition to anyone’s kitchen. Order your copy from my etsy shop!

And, I made a coupon code just for you guys! If you decide to buy it, type in “CHAI123” for 10% off.

Cover collageThe Preview photo (above)

Front Cover 2014

The cover (above)

And I thought I’d give you guys a sneak peek of some of my favorite pages from it:

December January July October

Happy holidays everyone! Hope you bake and cook up a storm for your loved ones. (Or just enjoy the food made by others!)

Recipe: Avocado Fries

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When I first saw this recipe for fried avocado strips, my first thought was that they could either be really strange, or really delicious. Luckily, it turned out they were the latter, and they even received a slew of compliments from people who usually find my ideas for avocado concoctions suspicious sounding! They can be eaten on their own, or served as a side with a variety of cuisines.

I decided to alter the recipe a bit and add some lime, but feel free to garnish it with whatever you like; I might try grated cheese or some kind of chili sauce with them next!

Recipe adapted from Sunset Magazine.

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Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

  • Canola oil for frying
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs, beaten to blend
  • 1 1/4 cups panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
  • 2 firm-ripe medium avocados, pitted, peeled, and sliced into 1/2-in. wedges
  • Optional: Lime or lime juice

Directions

1. Put flour and 1/2 tsp salt in a plate. Place eggs and panko in their own separate plates.

2. Heat about an inch of oil in a skillet.

3. Sprinkle the avocado slices with the remaining ½ tsp salt.  Dip each slice in flour, then dip in egg, then coat with panko. Set on plates or wax paper.

3. Fry as many avocado slices as you’d like at a time (that you can fit in a single layer in the skillet) until both sides are deep golden, 30 to 60 seconds. Transfer slices to a plate lined with paper towels. Keep warm in oven while cooking remaining avocados. Sprinkle with salt and lime juice if desired.

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I hope you’ll like them as much as we did!

Thanks for reading,

Michelle

Recipe: Simple Tart Crust

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When a recipe I was making called for frozen puff pastry dough, I knew it simply wouldn’t do; as always, I had to make my own from scratch! This tart crust is ideal for savory dishes, but is also a solid option for just about any type of dessert tart due to its minimal flavorings; it gets rave reviews whenever it’s served. You could always throw in some flavors, too–such as a bit of sugar or cinnamon–to complement whatever filling you choose to put in it!

This dough also functions as a galette (freeform pastry) base.

Time: Active: 15-25 minutes

Inactive: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 4 tablespoons (or more) ice water

Directions

1. Whisk flour and salt in bowl.

2. Using fingers or a pastry cutter, rub/cut the butter into the flour mixture until coarse crumbs form and there are no more chunks of butter.

3. Add the ice water one tablespoon at a time, stirring slightly, until the dough begins to clump together. Continue adding extra water by the teaspoonful if too dry (I had to add about 2 more tablespoons–it really depends on how dry the air is where you are!) until a workable dough forms.

4. Form dough into 2 disks, cover in saran wrap, and store in fridge for at least 30 minutes. (These can then be stored for two or so days before being rolled out and used.)

5. Take dough out of fridge and let it sit at room temperature for 15 minutes. Roll out dough–mine was ideal at about 1/2″ thickness, though it depends on your personal preferences–and line tart pan.

Note: Make sure the dough is still somewhat chilled in the tart pan when you put it in the oven, or else the edges could slump down and join the bottom crust! If necessary, put the whole tart pan in the fridge after you’ve lined it with dough to prevent this from happening.

I’ll soon be posting some of my own recipes using this tart crust, so stay tuned!

Michelle