Thursday, July 24, 2014

Chai Tea Concentrate Recipe

Chai tea latte is probably my favorite comfort drink of all time.  The blend of spices and tea and the creaminess of the milk is the perfect combination for a hot drink on a cool night, or a cool drink on a hot day!  We like to make our chai lattes at home because you could buy a whole carton of concentrate which makes 4-5 drinks for what you would pay for one at Starbucks.  Since we have recently started removing sugar from our diet, we have been much more savvy at looking at the sugar content on labels.  We did a comic double take when we checked out our favorite mix's sugar content. 16 grams for 4 ounces! Woof!!  I decided to make my own version based on what type of spices we like.  I've tried a few different combos and I finally got it right! Here's what you do:




Ingredients:
41/2 Cups of water
3T ground ginger (or 1 inch fresh)
1t. cinnamon
2 whole star anise
1/8 t. nutmeg
1 1/3 t. cardamom
1 1/3 t. cloves
Couple shakes of black pepper
pinch of corriander
1 T of vanilla
5 large black tea bags
3 small orange spice tea bags

Start by adding all of the spices and water to a pot.  Bring to a full boil, then turn down heat to medium low and let simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat.  Add the tea bags and cover to steep for 20 minutes. Add the vanilla and stir.  Once cool, pour mixture through a fine mesh sieve or a cheesecloth.  I found a cheese cloth worked best to get the majority of the spice out for the perfect balance.

Use equal parts concentrate and your favorite milk.  I love mine with unsweetened coconut milk or goats milk. Jared likes his with regular dairy milk.  You can drink this heated or over ice for a nice cool latte.

If you prefer more sweetness, add some honey to taste.  If you find this too spicy, try running it through the strainer another time. This does best kept in the fridge so you can pull it out whenever you are craving a tasty treat.
You can find similar bottles to the one I used here:


Bormioli Rocco Giara Clear Glass Bottle With Stopper, 33 3/4 oz.




Hop to it!  That way you can hurry up and relax!!  Enjoy!!


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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Coconut Oil Chocolate/Sauce/Magic Shell

I am a chocoholic. There's no denying it. Since I've been trying to cut back drastically on refined sugars, it's been a little tricky cutting out my favorite chocolate treats. This recipe has been a life saver. Using organic cocoa powder, local honey, and organic coconut oil, not only does this satisfy my chocolate cravings, but it's loaded with nutrients.  And an added bonus: you can use this recipe 3 different ways!! Coconut oil solidifies at 76 degrees, so this will harden when you put it on ice cream or anything cold.  You can also line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and pour the heated chocolate into the pan. Let it set up in the fridge for a little bit and you have chocolate bars or chunks, depending on how you break it up.  It also makes a great sauce for dipping at the liquified state, as I have it shown in the picture.  Here's the recipe:

Ingredients:
Equal parts organic coconut oil, organic cocoa powder, and local organic honey
Vanilla extract to taste 
A pinch or two of salt

Heat the coconut oil in a sauce pan until liquid. Stir in remaining ingredients. Let cool to thicken for use as a sauce, or pour into parchment paper covered baking sheet and refrigerate.

Enjoy the endless possibilities that this yummy chocolate sauce will bring!! What will you make with yours?

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Miracle Mondays: How I Should Have Met My Husband a Thousand Times

 

I'll never forget the day that Jared, my husband, and I were swimming in my neighbors pool.  We were having a good old time, being crazy (imagine that), playing as if we were children. Doing handstands, flips off the diving board, going down the slide, and...I'm not gonna lie, I think there's a possibility I may have flipped my hair like Ariel from the little mermaid a few times. It happens. We were using some boogie boards at one point and I said,"this is what I had to do during swimming lessons when I was little, and the teacher would yell, 'Kick, kick, kick' and 'Deep breath and tuck." He looked at me and said, "That's what we did when I was in swimming lessons."  I said," Well ours was at a woman's house, and her daughter helped teach."  He said," so was mine!"  I said, " Ours had this huge blow up whale we got to play on during play time." "Ours did, too!" he said.  We had been together for years at that point and we never knew that we took swimming lessons at the same place and were quite possibly in the same class!


 This was not the first incident where we could have met each other and didn't.  It starts way back to before we had ever started dating.  I was working as a manager at the Gap, saving up money to go to cosmetology school.  I remember people talking about Jared Storm and how cool he was. Apparently, he was one of the people that left  for whom I hired in to replace.  He had moved to Chicago and transfered to a Gap there. He came in with his friend one time, back from Chicago to visit, and everyone was whispering, "Oh my God, there's Jared Storm!"  I was like, "Big whoop!  Who cares?  I don't see what all the fuss is about!" Little did I know....



After finishing cosmetology school, I decided to move to Chicago myself, my favorite city.  My friend Kristin and I decided to move together and become roommates.  We were getting ready to go up and look for apartments, and her cousin, one Mr. Jared Storm, was going to meet us and we were all going to go out that night.  Fortunately, though we didn't realize it at the time, Mr. Storm ditched us and didn't return our calls.  Apparently, his friend Josh's band was in town and chose to hang out with them instead.   A jealous ex-girlfriend happened to be there, too, so I'm thinking there were multiple reasons we did not get to meet that evening.


The very same weekend that Kristin and I moved to Chicago, Jared moved back to Decatur, my home town.  We just kept missing each other.  My best friend Randi was working as a teacher at that time, and was also working hard to put herself through cosmetology school in the evenings.  She was talking to the receptionist at the school in which she taught.  She mentioned that her son had just moved back in town and was looking for a place to stay, and that he would be a great roommate.   That receptionist was my mother in law.  Randi had also known Jared from back in high school when he was in Big Yellow Ball, a local band, and he took her sister, another one of my best friends, Tracy, to homecoming.  When I came home to visit, we soon hit it off.  From there, its history.

These photos are from our wedding 6 years ago, I had to post these because they are very indicative of our relationship.  Loving, grateful, sassy, and full of real life humor. We crack each other up.





As we started dating, we could not believe how many mutual friends we had.  We did not go to the same school or anything like that.  It was pretty bizarre.  Not too long after meeting his family, my mom and I were out at the mall.  We ran into his aunt Leslie, and immediately, she remembered that she used to go to the step aerobics class that his aunt Leslie used to teach when we were very little. His mom used to go that class as well.  Jared and my sister and I probably played in their playroom while our mom's were sweating their little buns off!


Timing is everything, people.  When I say that I met my husband at the right time, I'm not kidding around.  It was a miracle.  I should have met him all of these different ways, but I didn't.  It's not like we both loved gardening, and remodeling, and cooking, and exercising at the time we met, because really, all we had in common was some music, (oh and he danced the first time we saw a band together, so I knew he was a keeper) but that was it.  *Side note* That same dancing night, we witnessed some guy hopping along, dancing to "Rock You Like a Hurricane" with a beer in his hand, and got so excited about the song that he fell backwards into the drum set knocking all of the drums down but the snare and the high hat, and the drummer continued to play with one drum stick along with the rest of the band! It was like a hilarious scene from a movie!! *End side note*  My point is that we have grown together, and have all of these wonderful new things we love to do because they are things we have tried as a couple.  Had I met this amazing man at any other time, I know he wouldn't have liked me, and I probably wouldn't have liked him either.  We were both completely different people each and every time that we should have met. On that particular day that we met, we were exactly who we were supposed to be, having had all of the experiences to prepare us to be that exact being that we each were at that exact time.  Even when he thought I was probably snobby before we talked... perfect timing. (He, he!)  I am the luckiest girl in the world, and there are LITERALLY no words to describe my love and appreciation and respect for this man, so I'm not even gonna try.  All I can say is thank God for that perfect timing. Boom! Miracle.



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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Chipotle Chicken Burrito Copycat Recipe

My husband and I had our first date at Chipotle.  It is my favorite burrito of ALL TIME.  Unfortunately, we live in a town that does not have a Chipotle.  The closest one is 45 minutes away. Maybe that's a good thing.  NO, it's definitely a good thing for us.  We would be there at least once or twice a week. So, to subdue our cravings, I make this "copy cat" version.  Its not EXACTLY like Chipotle, but lets be serious, how could it be, right? It is, however, the closest thing that I have come up with.  And the bonus is that it makes a ton so you can put leftovers in the freezer and bust it out whenever you have a hankering for a burrito.  So here it goes:

Ingredients:

- 1 7oz can of chipotle pepper in adobo sauce. Remove the peppers and keep the sauce.
- 6-7 dried red chili peppers
- 1 small onion
- 2 tsp cumin
- 2 tbsp dried oregano
- 2.5 tsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 6 chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- 2 cups water

Throw everything in food processor, blend and cover chicken, throw in crock pot for 5 hours on low.

Pico de gallo : 
2 tbsp chopped cilantro
1/2 red onion, diced finely 
1/2 tsp salt
Juice of half a lime
1/2 jalepeno, finely diced
6 ripe Roma tomatoes, finely diced


Cilantro lime rice: 
2 cup basmati rice
4 cups water
Bay leaf
1 tsp salt
Juice of a lime
2 tbsp cilantro, minced
2 tbsp oil

Saute the rice in oil until almost translucent.  Add bay leaf and water, bring to a boil. 
As soon as the water begins to boil, turn the heat down low. Simmer, covered for 15-20 minutes, or until all water is absorbed. Turn off heat.  Leave covered for 30 minutes.

Mix salt and juice of lime together until salt is dissolved. remove bay leaf, pour it over rice, fluff with a fork. Sprinkle in cilantro, and toss well to evenly coat with cilantro and lime mixture.

This makes quite a bit for the two of us, so I usually just make about half of the pico de gallo and rice, and then freeze half of the chicken.  I just make fresh rice and pico de gallo the next time I'm ready to use it because it takes very little time to whip those up. 

To Assemble Burrito:

  • Heat up a burrito sized tortilla in on a large ungreased skillet for about 30 seconds on each side, or until hot
  • Put a scoop of chicken, rice, pico de gallo, beans if you prefer, shredded cheese, lettuce and sour cream. (To make sour cream more like Chipotle's, add a little bit of water to make it more like a sauce), and guacamole if you're feeling saucy
  • Fold the top and bottom of the tortilla inward, then roll from left to right to seal it up!

Now dig in!!!



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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Coconut Oil Drops

I'm sure you've all heard about the coconut oil craze that is buzzing about all over the internet and in
magazines.  The health benefits of this good fat are ENDLESS...not only for ingesting, but also as a topical oil as well.  Here are a couple great graphics that demonstrate some of these awesome benefits:



                                

                                           
This is the brand that we use, because it is organic.  There are so many different ways to use coconut oil, so I decided to make some single serving drops that make it much more convenient to just grab and go.  They can be used on toast, in your coffee, in place of oil or butter when cooking or for oil pulling.  

We just recently started oil pulling.  For oil pulling, all you do is take one of the oil drops and chew it until it is liquid and then swish it around in your mouth for 10-20 minutes.  Then spit it out into a baggie and throw it away. Spitting it in the sink could clog up the drain.  I have to tell you, my mouth has never felt so clean and fresh, its almost better than going to the dentist.  It helps pull all of the nasty bacteria out of your mouth which can cause bad breath, digestive issues, stained teeth, and even acne. The swishing also builds up your facial muscles and helps to tighten your skin!!  It may take a while to build up to the 20 minutes, but I do this in the morning when I'm getting ready and so I'm distracted and don't even notice it.  This is the one I use HERE.

To make the oil drops, let the coconut oil melt some by letting it sit out at room temp or heating it up some. You could even go ahead and scoop it into a bag and melt it with your hands.  Then put the bag in the freezer for just a couple of minutes until its a thick paste like consistency.

Twist the top to force the oil to a bottom corner as if you were using a pastry bag and snip about 1/4" off of the bag.

Then on a foil lined baking sheet, make little circles, swirling as you go, to build up the little drops.  Mine are about 1 tablespoon per drop. The heat from your hands will make it a little too melty as you go, so I had to pop mine back in the freezer every couple minutes. This took a little practice, but most of them were good sized. You can always take any mess ups and melt them to do it over.  Pop them in the freezer when you are all done for about 5 minutes and then you are done!

I put mine in a large mason jar with a lid and keep them in the fridge. If you keep them out at room temperature for too long, they will start to melt.

Now its extremely easy to add this super healthy oil to my dietary or beauty regimen, one little drop at a time!!









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