Friday, December 28, 2012

Chai Tea Latte Mix

UPDATE:  I've received GREAT reviews on this.  Everyone who likes chai tea loves this stuff!

This is another great mix for gift jars.  This recipe made five pint jars.  When I am not making it for gifts, I will probably try to quarter the recipe.  It makes way more than I could ever drink by myself.  It's good though.   I don't think it is quite as good as Starbucks Chai Tea Latte but it is good.  Not to mention, it is MUCH cheaper.  I will definitely keep this recipe around.  One note though, this is the only recipe on this blog so far that is NOT corn-free.

1 cup nonfat dry milk powder
1 cup powdered non dairy creamer
1 cup French vanilla powdered non dairy creamer
2½ cups white sugar
2 cups unsweetened instant tea
2 tsp. ground ginger
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. allspice
¼ tsp. white pepper

Combine all ingredients.  Add three tablespoons of tea mix to one cup hot water or milk.

Note:  This recipe was modified from HERE.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

25 Books of Christmas

I saw this idea on Pinterest, of course.  It is called the 25 books of Christmas.  You wrap up 25 books and you open one with your kid(s) each night of December through Christmas Day.  I did this for my two year old.  I bought used books at a local used book store and found a pack of Christmas books through Scholastic for a great price.  (Although, not all of the books were Christmas books.  That is just a lot of Christmas.  I just looked for age appropriate.)  I spent $0.25-$1.00 on each book so it wasn't expensive and I won't feel too bad if my girl rips some pages.  (We are still working on how to treat books with paper pages instead of strong board pages.)

Good news...  This was tons of fun and my toddler has built up a great library.  Bad news... SO. MANY. BOOKS!  So, I will be modifying this for next year.  Next year we will just do 25 days of Christmas.  Some nights will be crafts, some nights will be making a Christmas treat and some nights will be books.  It's a perfect mix.

For those who are interested, I did keep a list of the books I gave L. Some days have more than one book because I ended up with a surplus going overboard on books with great prices.  I am also a bit of a book addict myself.

25 books of Christmas:
1. The Night Before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore (I ended up with two copies of this so this is on the list twice. Both were illustrated by different illustrators so they were different to a two year old.)
2. Big Red Fire Engine by Rose Greydanus
3. Bible Stories (x3): Noah's Ark, Daniel and the Lion's Den, David and Goliath
4. Dinosaur Olympics
5. On Top of Spaghetti by Tom Glazer (L loved the books that were actually songs.  She loves to try to sing and loves to listen to others sing.)
6. Owlbert by Nicholas Harris
7. Puff the Magic Dragon by Pete Yarrow and Lenny Lipton
8. The Big Snowball by Wendy Chayette Lewison
9. Antarctica by Helen Cowcher
10. Baby Donald Makes a Snowfriend by Marilyn J. Sapienza
11. A Very Special Snowflake by Don Hoffman
12. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer by Barbara Shook Hazen
13. The Twelve Days of Christmas: A Christmas Carol
14. The Littlest Angel by Charles Tazewell
15. Baby Kermit's Christmas by Louise Gikow
16. Spot's Christmas by Eric Hill
17. Disney's Pooh: How to Catch a Heffalump
18. Disney's 101 Dalmations
19. One Mitten by Kristine O'Connell George & Corduroy's Christmas Surprise by Don Freeman
20. Snow Day by Joan Holub & I Love Christmas by Hans Wilhelm
21. The Twelve Cats of Christmas by Kevin Whitlark
22. Merry Christmas Grumpy Bunny by Justine Korman & Pocket's Christmas Wish by Ann Bonwill and Russell Julian
23. Clifford's Christmas by Norman Bridwell & Santa Duck and His Merry Helpers by David Milgram & A Silly Snowy Day by Michael Coleman
24. 'Twas the Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore (This one was wrapped up with her Christmas pajamas.)
25. Curious George Snowy Day by H.A. Rey & Merry Christmas Curious George by H.A. Rey

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Easy Tomato Soup

I've been sick a lot lately.  I can't get over one thing before the next hits.  My immune system has taken a big hit this year due to severe allergies and the first year being in the schools so much.  Everyone tells me that every new teacher is sick the first year while their bodies build up immunity to everything that all of the students, families and coworkers bring in.  I rarely got sick when I worked in an office of ten people but now I'm in multiple schools with hundreds of people in each school.  Anyway, I've had to find some foods that are easy to make and easy on the stomach.  I really needed a soup but I hate eating canned soup.  Have you read the labels on those things?  There are some crazy ingredients in those little cans.  And I have recipes for big soups but they take longer to cook and prepare.  I was sick enough a few times that I couldn't stand for more than a few minutes without getting sick again.  So, I found this soup and modified it to my own taste.  It uses canned tomato sauce which has fewer ingredients.  You could, of course, use homemade tomato sauce which I hope to have plenty of in a few years when I am able to get my garden really going.  But right now, the tomatoes at the store are horrible.  I also typically try to use canned foods with low sodium or no added sodium but I don't on the tomato sauce.  The low sodium tomato sauce has other unnecessary ingredients, one of which is a corn product.

½ tsp. onion powder
1 Tbsp. butter
1 cup tomato sauce (no cans for corn free)
¼ tsp. dried basil
Pinch of dried thyme
Pinch ground black pepper
1 cup chicken stock
Handful of parmesan cheese (optional)
Saltines (optional)

In a small saucepan, mix tomato sauce, butter, chicken stock, herbs and spices.  Bring to a simmer.  When soup is warm through turn off the heat and add the parmesan if desired.  Serve warm with saltines.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Beefy Potato Soup

This is my favorite soup and comfort food.  I can even eat it cold.  It is easy and great leftover.  Now I know the original recipe came from a newspaper or magazine from a long time ago.  I don't know exactly because it was just a clipping in my grandmother's recipe stash.  It seems like a strange recipe when you read it but give it a try.  Really!

1 lb. lean ground beef
4 cups cubed, peeled potatoes (I always use a little more potato)
1 small onion, minced (I've also used dried minced onion)
3 cups tomato sauce (no cans for corn-free)
4 cups water
2 tsp. salt
1½ tsp. pepper

(Note:  The original recipe also included ½-1 tsp. hot pepper sauce.  We don't like hot stuff so we leave it out.)

In a large soup/stew pot or dutch oven brown the ground beef with the minced onion.  Drain if needed.  Add the tomato sauce and water to the beef and onion and mix together.  Add salt and pepper.  Bring to boil then turn down to a simmer.  Simmer for 1 hour, stirring regularly, or until potatoes are tender.  Add salt and pepper to taste if needed.

And again, I forgot to take a picture.  I made this while I was sick so I didn't have the blog on my mind at the time.  I will be making it again at some point during the winter.