Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year with a Few of My Favorite Things

This has been an amazing year for me both professionally and personally.  I love sharing with all of you about my passion for All Things Tea! 

I will be leaving just after Christmas for London and Sri Lanka for study and research for my new book.  I won't be posting most likely until I get back and then I will tell you all about my tea adventures.  I thought it would be fun to share a few of my favorite things Christmas related from my home to yours along with a few of our traditions! 

Every year our family has a tree trimming party starting when the kids were able to stand and put ornaments on the tree.  When the kids were real little, my husband and I would have to do a little rearranging after they went to bed since everything was down at the bottom of the tree.  I make fudge, just like my mom did, we play Christmas music, and eat appetizers.  This year I tried to "break" tradition and serve ham with rolls instead of pigs-in-a-blanket! The kids revolted, so we had our traditional pigs-in-a-blanket again!  I never thought that tradition would be so treasured or I'm not sure I would have started it!!!

This is my set of Christmas dishes from Tracy Porter which is now retired.  We love to eat off of them for the month of December.  The table looks so beautiful Christmas morning with the plates set up.  I make cranberry bread and the same egg casserole I grew up eating Christmas morning. We serve tea from the festive teapots and my kids LOVE the homemade hot chocolate out of their Santa cups!

This Nativity set was hand-painted and given to my mom as a gift the year she was pregnant with me!  I remember setting it up in our living room growing up.  Since my mom is now in a nursing home, the nativity set got passed down to me.  My daughter now does the honors of setting it up in our foyer to welcome all that visit during the holidays.

Here's a little closer view of the Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus.  It is the most beautiful set I have ever seen! 

 Our family will be going out for our annual Christmas tea together tomorrow which is something I look forward to all year!

What are some of your family Christmas traditions?

Wishing all you a very warm and wonderful Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Happy Sipping, Lisa

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Unique Gifts for Tea Lovers Part 2

I just think the Babycakes Cupcake Maker is a novel idea and so did Roxanne Wyss.  Roxanne and I share literary agents and I met her at an industry event this summer! 

Her and her partner Kathy Moore actually wrote the little recipe booklet that comes with the Babycakes Cupcake Maker and their minds starting racing on how much more you could do with it.  So that is how 175 Best Babycakes Cupcake Maker Recipes Cookbook was born. 

I got the cookbook for review and couldn't help but think how PERFECT these recipes are for tea time.  English tea time is all about having bite size savories and sweets while enjoying tea.  This is also a great item and cookbook if you enjoying cooking with your kids.  The cupcake maker is definitely an upgrade from the Easy Bake oven of my day. 

Here are two recipes that would be perfect for your Holiday tea.

This recipe is great for an adult tea and the dried cranberries make it so festive!
Curried Chicken Salad Cups
Makes 16 wonton cups

16 wonton wrappers (about 31⁄2 inches/ 16
8.5 cm square)

1 clove garlic, minced 1
1 tsp grated gingerroot 5 mL
1⁄2 tsp curry powder 2 mL
3 tbsp whipped cream cheese, softened 45 mL
3 tbsp sour cream 45 mL
1 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice 5 mL
1 green onion, chopped 1
1 cup chopped cooked chicken 250 mL
3 tbsp sweetened dried cranberries 45 mL
or golden raisins
2 tbsp dry-roasted peanuts 30 mL
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Additional dry-roasted peanuts
Minced fresh cilantro

1. Crusts: Place 1 wonton wrapper on top of each well and gently press into well with the pie forming tool, making a cup.

2. Filling: In a medium bowl, combine garlic, ginger, curry powder, cream cheese, sour cream and lemon juice. Stir in green onion, chicken, cranberries and peanuts. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon about 11⁄2 tbsp (22 mL) filling into each wonton cup.

3. Bake for 6 to 8 minutes or until wontons are golden and filling is hot. Carefully transfer cups to a wire rack to cool slightly. Repeat with the remaining wontons and filling.

4. Garnish: Sprinkle with additional peanuts (if using) and cilantro. Serve immediately

Pairing suggestions: A spicy Indian Black Masala Chai or an Indian Black Assam tea

How fun would these be to make with your kids or grandkids!

White Chocolate Snowmen Cupcakes
Makes 32 cupcakes

Paper liners (optional)

11⁄4 cups all-purpose flour 300 mL
11⁄4 tsp baking powder 6 mL
1⁄4 tsp salt 1 mL
3⁄4 cup granulated sugar 175 mL
6 tbsp butter, softened 90 mL
2 eggs, at room temperature 2
4 oz white chocolate, melted (see tip, 125 g
at right)
2⁄3 cup milk 150 mL


White Chocolate Cream Cheese
1 31⁄2- or 4-oz (105 or 125 g) white 1
chocolate bar
32 gumdrops, cut in half crosswise 32
32 11⁄2-inch (4 cm) pieces red shoestring 32
96 mini candy-coated chocolate candies 96
Confectioners’ (icing) sugar
or cornstarch

1. Cupcakes: In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat sugar and butter for 1 to 2 minutes or until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in white chocolate. Add flour mixture alternately with milk, making three additions of flour and two of milk and beating on low speed until smooth.

3. If desired, place paper liners in wells. Fill each well with about 11⁄2 tbsp (22 mL) batter. Bake for 6 to 8 minutes or until a tester inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Transfer cupcakes to a wire rack to cool. Repeat with the remaining batter.

4. Decoration: Frost cupcakes with White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting.

5. Using a vegetable peeler, scrape down the side edge of the white chocolate bar to make shavings. Sprinkle shavings over frosting, giving it a “freshly fallen snow” look.

6. Place 2 gumdrop halves, cut side down, on opposite sides of each cupcake to make earmuffs. Arrange 1 strip of red licorice to look like a mouth and use candies to make eyes and a nose.

7. To make hats, on a cutting board lightly dusted with confectioners’ sugar, roll out fondant to about 1⁄8-inch (3 mm) thickness. For the center of each hat, cut a piece of fondant about 2 by 3⁄4 inches (5 by 2 cm). Fold it in half so it becomes a rectangle of about 1 by 3⁄4 inch (2.5 by 2 cm) (the double thickness will hold the shape of the hat better and be stronger). For the hat band, cut a strip of fondant about 3 by 1⁄2 inches (7.5 by 1 cm). Place the hat band over the edge of the rectangle, folding the ends under so that the hat band is the right size for the hat. Position a hat on the top edge of each cupcake.

Pairing Suggestion:  An Indian Black Darjeeling or a Japanese Green Sencha tea or if looking for caffeine free suggestion for kids a Rooibos tea of any flavor

I think the Babycakes Cupcake Maker and the 175 Best Babycakes Cupcake maker Recipes would make a great gift combo for any age and makes having tea time that much easier!  If you buy the cookbook, please share some of your favorite recipes with me.

Happy Sipping and Shopping, Lisa

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Unique Gifts for Tea Lovers Part 1

Well 'tis the season of gift buying for many! It is also a time that our schedules are packed full and our to-do lists are long! I will keep it brief since leisure reading time is at a minimum as well. I wanted to give you two suggestions for unique Christmas/Holiday gifts for you and your tea-loving friends on your shopping list! This week is one suggestion and next week, I will offer my second suggestion.

I just love the products that Tea Tagent has come out with. I think their logo says it all, "Designing the Art of Tea in America."

All Tea Tagent's products are made of sustainably harvested wild cherry trees from the Allegany Forest in Pennsylvania.  Their wood contains no glues or plastic resins. 

To keep your Tea Tangent piece looking good over time, just clean with warm soap and water and add a bit of food grade oil to help it age well over time. 

I just love my Tea Nest Set that the company gave me this year at an industry event.  It just gives the Tea Nest a place to sit after brewing and for storing.  I keep it sitting out so that it is easy to use and it just looks good!!!

So if you are looking for a unique gift this season, may I suggest a product from Tea Tangent?

Happy Sipping and Shopping, Lisa