Golden Milk Tea

I've had my share of pain in life. I am referring to physical, here! For a few years, I suffered so badly that every day was a struggle. I went to countless doctors and  tried medicines, procedures, and diet changes. The good news is that I was able to get it under control, and after living in fear for some time that a normal life would not be possible for me, I now live just that. But there are occasions when I have bad days, when I hurt so bad it is distracting from work and every day life. For me, medications are not the answer. Some people are faced with a reality that is daily pills, but I don't feel that is required for me. I have alternative choices, including taking care of myself. For that reason, I am always looking for natural remedies when I can. If we can remedy an issue via diet, why take capsules filled with chemicals?

Recently, a friend posted online about an anti-inflammatory beverage called Golden Milk Tea. Turmeric is known for having cancer preventing properties, but I didn't know it was an anti-inflammatory, too! I often add a bit to recipes just for the sake of having turmeric, and this is just more reason to keep that up.


This recipe version I read called for making something called turmeric paste first, then using that as an ingredient in the tea. The paste consists of a lot of turmeric dissolved into water on low heat with some black pepper mixed in. Sounds like an odd mix for a beverage, but it seems the pepper helps the body absorb the turmeric better.

The original recipe made a LOT of turmeric paste - way more than one gal could go through in a 2 week period, even if I had this tea hooked up to steady IV. For this reason I scaled the quantity back, using about 1/2 of the original amount of turmeric. I heated it on low until the turmeric and water formed a paste, then added the black pepper.

At that point I moved the paste into it's own jar. Even after cutting back some, I still wound up with about 1 cup total of the final paste. Seeing as how the actual tea recipe uses very little, I knew that would be plenty.

Next, I added some almond milk, coconut oil, vanilla extract, powdered cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger to a saucepan, then mixed in about 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric paste. I heated it up on medium-low, stirring frequently, just until the milk warmed up. The nutmeg was an addition on my part because that's another good for you ingredient and besides, it works great in most desserts.


It only took about 5 minutes and I had enough tea for a glass (the photo is actually only a portion of the amount I made - I was sharing).


Iiiiinteresting! It reminded me of Chai tea, which has a cinnamon spice to it. I am a big fan of Chai, so this was a smooth transition for me. I've experimented the tea with a few of friends and family, and received input that fits with my own description. It has a unique taste with some spice to it and a consistency of a creamy coffee. It is not thin like tea (unless you put milk in your tea, of course).

I did feel relaxed after drinking it; the combination of warm milk and the spices is a good one. On the day I made it, I was struggling with some back soreness, and after drinking this in the evening I felt well enough to relax and get some sleep.

I am curious why the paste needs to be created before the tea rather than just mixing some turmeric right in. If you are heating it all together anyway, won't it have the same effect? Once I use this up, I will certainly try it. The heat did make the paste thicken.

The next time I made the tea, I used a full teaspoon of the paste. Though more golden in color, the tea was not so potent in turmeric flavor that it was not drinkable. My suggestion is to start small and work your way up.

Golden Milk Tea Recipe

Ingredients:

For the turmeric paste:
2 tablespoons turmeric
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon black pepper

For the tea:
2 cups almond milk
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1-2 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon turmeric paste

Instructions:

Make the turmeric paste by mixing the turmeric and water in a small saucepan. Heat on medium-low while stirring until a paste is formed. Add black pepper.

For the tea, combine all ingredients in a saucepan. Heat over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the milk is warm, then serve. Serves 1-2.

adapted from golden milk tea

Ratatouille

It's not every day you get to recreate a Disney film in your kitchen. I've said before that I get the cooking itch, and one evening I was baking some holiday pies when I realized I needed to use up some veggies in my fridge. Zucchini, eggplant, mushrooms...wait a minute, I hadn't seen a certain cartoon about a rat chef in a while...it was ratatouille time.

I've always enjoyed eggplant and squash, even making a noodle free lasagna with layers of vegetables in place of pasta (if you haven't done this, you are missing out). Despite this, the Disney film had me convinced that ratatouille was a bland dish, as many characters seem unimpressed when ratatouille is discussed. In hindsight, that is likely because this is more of a traditional side item, just one that I am unfamiliar with. I don't honestly think I had even heard of it before watching the film several years ago.

Pepitas

Squash, though in season during the fall, has become a year round treat. Roasted butternut and spaghetti squashes have become immensely popular, and of course the smaller yellow and zucchini squashes are a handy partner in many a good dish.

Spaghetti squash has become a particular favorite of mine, with my top choice being Spaghetti Squash Pizza Crust. Turning unhealthy foods into good options is fun. But when I make it, I tend to throw out the seeds. Why not come up with a better use?

I roasted a pumpkin recently, and decided to take out the seeds. Pepita is the Spanish term for squash seed, and is how you will find roasted pumpkin seeds at the grocery.

Making them is a breeze. For my first roasting attempt, I decided to make 2 variations: a sweet and a savory. I'd made Toasted Sesame Seeds and Almonds a while back when I made Koliva, so I had a good idea of what I was doing.

Before roasting the pumpkin, I cut it in half and scooped out the guts. The seeds are all attached, so though most come off easy, some take a little bit of effort. I put the seeds in a bowl of salt water and baked the pumpkin as I would any squash.

A friend had suggested the salt water trick, noting that it removes bitterness. So, after 24 hours, I took the seeds out and spread them onto two baking sheets lined with foil (This was a big pumpkin so there were tons). I set the oven to 400 degrees F and roasted them for about 10 minutes to dry them out.


I then seasoned the two batches. For the savory one, I tossed them in some avocado oil and then sprinkled on paprika and chili powder. No salt was needed since they were already soaking.

For the sweeter option, I tossed the seeds in coconut oil and then added some brown sugar and cinnamon. Then, I popped those trays right back in the oven for another 10 minutes. I stirred them halfway through so they wouldn't burn. They became a little bit of a golden brown color.


Aaaand that was it. No more to it.


I really loved the sweet one, but then again I am a sucker for desserts. The savory was good, too, though not too spicy. A dash of cayenne might be a good addition to the seasoning mix. For an easy snack, these are great. And if you are making squash anyway, talk about a perfect way to use it all.

Pepitas Recipe


Ingredients:

For the savory seeds:
1-2 tablespoons avocado oil
1-2 teaspoons paprika
1-2 teaspoons chili powder

For the sweet seeds:
1-2 tablespoons coconut oil
1-2 teaspoons brown sugar
1-2 teaspoons cinnamon

Instructions:

Remove seeds from squash and place in a bowl of salt water. Soak for 24 hours, then spread onto baking sheet. Roast at 400 degrees F for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and add seasonings. Continue baking for 15 minutes, stirring halfway through.

Guinness Beef Brisket

Listen, I love beer. I love it in the form of hefeweizen, porter, ale, stout...you name it. I love the chance to tour breweries when I travel, since regions have all different flavors. Drinking beer is of course choice number one, but cooking with it? Gimme.

Brisket has also risen fairly high in the list of my favorite things in recent years. Slow cooked, shredded beef makes one fantastic bbq sandwich. I had snagged a pretty small cut at a little local grocery, and as it had been a hot minute since my last brisket endeavor, I was excited to get to it.

I used a dry rub to start the cooking off, using coffee, chili and curry powders, paprika, ground mustard, white pepper, and garlic salt.


After getting the dry rub in order, I baked the brisket for an hour. The beer went in next, along with some water. I didn't use broth since there was plenty of seasoning involved in this delight already.

I then lowered the heat, covered the pan in foil, and continued the cooking for another 2 hours.


When a fork stuck into the meat causes it to completely fall apart, you know your brisket is ready to go. I pulled that bad boy out and let it rest, uncovered, for about 10 minutes. At that point, it just took a few swipes of the fork to get it shredded the rest of the way.


A good brisket is worth the wait. With a little bit of patience, I wound up with a tender, shredded brisket. The sauce made from the meat drippings and beer gave the meat a rich flavor, almost like an au jus. No bread required for this meal - the brisket was the standalone star and a veggie on the side was all I needed. Since it was just lil ol' me eating this, I was lucky enough to enjoy it over a couple of days. My favorite reheat option? Brisket taco with a bit of roasted pepper salsa. Thumbs up!

Stout was the right choice for this recipe, and I have to wonder what stout or porter variants might also go. Maybe a sweeter option or a coffee stout? That's just me. Always thinking ahead.

Guinness Beef Brisket Recipe

Ingredients:

1 beef brisket (1-2 pounds)
1 tablespoon coffee
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon chili powder

1 tablespoon curry powder
2 teaspoons tablespoon garlic salt
2 teaspoons white pepper
2 teaspoons dry mustard
6 ounces Guinness
1 1/2 cups water

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  In a small bowl, combine coffee, paprika, garlic salt, white pepper, chili and curry powders, and dry mustard. salt, garlic, dried onion, black pepper, sugar, dry mustard, and crushed bay leaves. Season the brisket on both sides with the rub, then place in a roasting pan.  Cook for 1 hour.  Add beer and water--enough leave 1/2 inch of liquid in the roasting pan. Lower oven to 300 degrees F, cover pan tightly and continue cooking for 2 hours. Remove from oven and allow meat to rest for at least 5 minutes. Trim the fat and slice meat. Top with juice from the pan.

Orange Creamsicle Cupcakes

The urge. Sometimes it hits me, and I have to get in the kitchen. The baking fix must be quelled. Like a zombie needing brains, I instinctively grab my apron and become fixated on my next experiment. I can turn a bit mad scientist when I get in the kitchen. Ideas run through my head, and I check my "to do" list of recipes looking for something to start. Since summer is fading into fall, the warm days of popsicles by the pool will soon become a thing of the past. And what better popsicle exists but the creamsicle? It's got that fruit flavor mixed with the creamy taste of vanilla cream, combining forces to make this little bit of frozen greatness. Why not capture that flavor in a cupcake?

Portobello Pasta

Mushrooms. Pasta. Marinara Sauce. Already sounding good? The "Portobello Pasta" name here is ever so slightly misleading because this is not just a plate of portobello mushrooms and noodles. Nor is it a pile of mushroom flavored spaghetti (I'll stick to spinach for that). Not even close. But as I didn't want to name this, "Ground Beef, Portobello Mushrooms, and Spinach Lasagna Type Dish," I came up with something a tad shorter. We can work with it.

My goal was to make a dish that had loads of vegetables and a good amount of protein. Portobello mushrooms are a really great meat alternative, or in this case, a protein bonus. The first time I tried them was on a pizza (there's this amazing pizza place around here that knocks it out of the park every time). Besides the fact I love mushrooms in general, portobellos are larger and have a meatier taste. Fun fact: I learned a few months ago that white, cremini, and portobellos are all of the same mushroom species. They're just at different stages in the life cycle. Here's an article with more on that.

Chocolate Dipped Shortbread Cookies

Just recently, I bought my first house. It took tons of work to get the place move-in ready. From tile to paint to the biggest cleaning job I've ever completed, this house was a big job. Even upon bringing all my belongings over, I've still been working on it, slowly but surely.

Because I was so busy getting the inside ready, I didn't have much time to get to know my neighbors. They were friendly, but I am of the old school mentality that you give greetings with baked goods. Well, maybe that is more because I am obsessed with my kitchen. Either way, I finally set aside some time to make some fresh cookies to give a nice, warm, "Hello!"

Cauliflower Pot Pie

What's more comforting than a southern style pot pie? A flaky pie crust filled with vegetables and a creamy beshchamel sauce is a great dinner year round.  But make it with a cauliflower pie crust and add carrots, leeks, celery, and cremini mushrooms, and cheddar cheese, and suddenly, things get extra special.

Homemade pie crust does, by nature of the word homemade, require more effort than pre-brought varieties. But homemade goods bring advantages, from controlling what ingredients are used to ensuring the proper freshness. Think about it: you buy a pie crust that is good for a month past the date you purchased it. How fresh is it really? If you want your baked goods to taste as good as they possibly can, you need the right supplies.
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