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by Caitlin Saniga

You can smell the chamomile in this dish more than you can taste it, and I like this recipe because chamomile truly is the star. The flavors are so simple. I'd definitely recommend this dish for kids. Aaaand, Eddie said he thinks salmon would make a good substitute for the chicken. He would know. I wouldn't.

  • 3 chamomile tea bags
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 3/4 cup light mayonnaise
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon
  • 1 pound shell pasta
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup diced red peppers (from 1 small pepper)
  • 1/2 cup diced green peppers (from 1 small pepper)
  • parsley for garnish

Steep the tea bags in the vinegar for 15 minutes. Squeeze out the excess liquid before discarding the bags. Mix in the mayonnaise and tarragon, and chill.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta until al dente. Drain the pasta and reserve.

Heat the oil in a skillet and saute the chicken until it is cooked through, about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the chicken to a plate to cool. Shred the chicken. Combine the chicken, pasta, peppers and dressing in a large bowl. Toss and chill.

Serves 6.

Recipe adapted from: Celestial Seasonings Cookbook

Photos: Caitlin Saniga

Chamomile facts

-Good for: Boosting the immune system and relieving muscle spasms and menstrual cramps. Chamomile’s active ingredient bisabolol has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties.

-Origins: Chamomile is an herb that comes from a flowering plant in the daisy family and is most commonly grown in Europe and parts of Asia. Even in ancient Egypt, chamomile tea was used as a remedy for colds. Romans enjoyed it as the herb in beverage form and as an incense.

-Taste: Chamomile has a floral and fruity aroma (some say it smells like apples), and when served as a beverage, is good with honey.

Sources: TeaBenefits.com and Adagio.com 

*Throughout May, “Strange Brew” will feature tea-based recipes — all of which can be found here.

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by Sarah Steimer

Rooibos couscous on a coffee-themed teatowel.

  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 3-4 teaspoons of Rooibos
  • 1 cup couscous
  • 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • about 10 fresh green beans, chopped
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • salt and pepper

Make tea with the water and Rooibos.  Put the tea in a saucepan on the stove and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in couscous and onions.

In the meantime, steam the carrots and beans until tender. Cut the chicken into pieces (whatever size you like) and saute in a pan with oil, seasoning with salt and pepper. Stir together all ingredients and serve. You don’t get a very strong Rooibos taste in the couscous, but you still get the benefits. And it turns the white-ish couscous a really cool rust color.

Makes about two servings (as a main dish).

Recipe adapted from: Tea Chef

Photo: Sarah Steimer

Rooibos (aka Red Bush) facts

-Good for: Allergies and skin. Rooibos contains the bioflavonoids Rutin and Quercetin that help block allergy-causing histamines inside your body. It also has alpha hydroxy acid and zinc, which can help your skin if you have acne, eczema and sunburn (you can even apply it directly to the skin).

-Origins: Rooibos comes from a plant grown in the Western Cape Province of South Africa. The leaves are green but turn red when oxidized. South Africans prefer to drink their Rooibos with milk and sugar.

-Taste: Rooibos has a very earthy taste, but is not very strong. It is usually sold by itself or mixed with flavors, most commonly with vanilla.

Sources: Teavana and Natural Health Remedies

*Throughout May, “Strange Brew” will feature tea-based recipes — all of which can be found here.

This recipe appeared in Seasonal Sundays (RealSustenance.com).

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by Caitlin Saniga

Darjeeling tea is an Indian black tea with a fruity, floral, slightly musky scent. The Darjeeling tea in this recipe adds more of an aroma than a flavor. I suggest squeezing fresh lime juice over the potatoes for extra zinggggg.

  • 3 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lime zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons loose-leaf Darjeeling tea leaves
  • lime wedges

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, toss the sweet potatoes with the oil and stir to coat. Add the lime zest and salt. Crumble the tea with your fingers, crushing it as you sprinkle it over the potatoes. Stir well to distribute the tea and spices.

Spread the potatoes in prepared pan in an even layer. Bake for 10 minutes, the stir. Bake for an additional 10 to 20 minutes, until the sweet potatoes are just slightly firm in the center. Serve warm or at room temperature. Pass lime wedges alongside.

Makes 8 servings.

Recipe adapted from: Culinary Tea: More Than 150 Recipes Steeped in Tradition from Around the World

Photo: Caitlin Saniga

Darjeeling (aka ‘the champagne of teas’) facts

-Good for: Relaxation. Darjeeling tea leaves contain the amino acid L-theanine, which reduces physical and mental stress. The tea also contains high levels of antioxidants that fight disease and free radical damage.

-Origins: Darjeeling tea is produced exclusively in Darjeeling, India, and was first grown by an Indian Medical Services surgeon.

-Taste: Darjeeling has a fruity, floral taste with honey undertones, reminiscent of oolong tea rather than black tea.

Sources: Teavana and LiveStrong.com

*Throughout May, “Strange Brew” will feature tea-based recipes — all of which can be found here.

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by Sarah Steimer

Next time I'd like to add some lemon to this recipe.

  • 3/4 cup of milk
  • 2 tea bags — your choice!
  • 2 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3/4 cup butter, melted
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup (or more) slivered almonds

Butter and flour one regular-sized loaf pan or two mini loaf pans.

In a saucepan, combine milk and tea bag. Heat over medium-high heat until steaming. Remove from heat  and let stand for 10 minutes. Discard tea bags.

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. In another large bowl, combine tea-infused milk, honey, butter and eggs. Gradually add flour mixture to milk mixture, stirring until blended. Mix in almonds. Pour into prepared pan(s). Bake for 50 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

This is a great recipe to play around with. Try different teas or nuts. Stir in some spices. It’s good to have a solid base bread recipe to work with — and this one isn’t half bad.

Recipe adapted from: Cooking with Paula Deen

Photo by: Sarah Steimer

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