Chai Tea

Well, classes are over and that paper still isn't quite done.  This means that my free time that doesn't involve swimming, yoga or running, is mostly devoted to cooking.  And then not having time to blog about it because I'm working on said paper.

So what have I done this past week?

I made myself the most decadent banana bread mug "bread" ever.  There was no way that once I added cinnamon chips, chocolate chips and peanut butter frosting, it wasn't a mug cake.  And that was lunch.  Oops.

NES and I ate a crockpot chicken with honey mustard creation by ZNS.  I must say, not being a huge honey mustard fan, it was very tasty.

As soon as I brought my lime kumquat tree outside for the summer, the squirrels started messing with me: they first ate all the fruit, then when I yelled at them, brought me back half of one.  Then promptly started eating the leaves.  Yikes.

NES and I also got some ice cream sometime.  And I might have also gotten free ice cream at school (the best day to be a grad student)!

I also made some more saltine candy crunch with colored chocolate chips!  It wasn't as pretty as I had hoped, so I added sprinkles.

You can almost see the swirls!

Then NES and I made what I can only deem the most ridiculous meal we've ever cooked.  But boy, was it good.  More on that later.  I can't talk about that now for fear you'll assume that I've lost all sense of healthy food!

I also discovered that my food processor has a nifty storage place for its cord.  It only took me almost two years!

NES and I also made mini burritos for Cinco de Mayo!  Since it was a late night for both of us, I put chicken lime taco stuff in the crockpot before I left, and NES made lime rice when he got home.  Since dinner was originally supposed to be tacos, we only had small tortillas, so they were mini, but they were good!

To use up my leftover "cheater" guacamole (which is super simple: 1/2 a mashed avocado, 1/2 a small tomato diced, lime juice and salt to taste) from the burritos, I fried my first egg yesterday!  I always assumed I didn't like fried eggs since I have a thing with runny yolks, but KEB taught me that "over hard" fried eggs are totally a thing.  Huzzah!  So I put it on toast with a slice of colby jack cheese and the guacamole!
Oh, and I finished yet another sock monkey.  Really, I finished her on Saturday, but she needed eyes.  Meet Bitty!

There was also a pie in there somewhere.

Don't forget the impromptu whatever-chicken-broth-is-in-the-fridge,  whatever-noodles-are-in-the-pantry (they happened to be pre-cooked stirfry noodles), oregano and garlic soup for a sick day at home on the couch!

And lots and lots of paper.

And then there was the chai concentrate.  I've been talking about it forever.  I've even posted and alternate version.  So, here's the original.  Finally.

If you are a fan of powdered chai mix, then it might not be exactly what you're looking for.  I will admit, my favorite coffee shop makes its chai from a mix, and it's a guilty pleasure of mine.  I love it.

This stuff isn't quite the same, but it's much healthier, and so perfect for making iced chai in the summer!  Oh, and hot chai in the winter, too!

I'll warn you, if you don't keep a huge spice cabinet, it'll be a bit of an investment up front.  The spices in here aren't the cheapest spices on the spice rack.  But it's worth it.  I've made 4-5 recipes and I'm nowhere close to running out.

Also, I like mine slightly less sweet and more cardamom-y, so I've adapted the recipe a little.

Oh, and I used decaf tea bags to make mine, since I've recently gone {mostly} caffeine-free.  You can use any tea bags you'd like!  I have also made it with strong British tea!

And once it's made, it is so easy to make yourself some chai anytime!  Bonus if you can get pi ice cubes to put in your chai!

(And if any of that doesn't make sense, I blame the paper!)

Chai Concentrate
adapted slightly from A Wooden Nest

4 1/2 cups water
1 stick cinnamon (or about a tbsp. crushed cinnamon stick -- not ground cinnamon)
1 3-in. piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
7-9 cardamom pods
2 star anise pods
10 whole cloves
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. orange zest
10 bags of (decaf) black tea
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp. honey
1 tbsp. vanilla

Gather and prepare the spices and the tea.  Meanwhile, bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan and remove from the heat.

Add all spices and tea bags and allow to steep for 15 minutes.

Strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer into a 4-cup measuring cup or bowl.  Discard the spices and tea bags.

Add the honey, sugar and vanilla, and stir till the sugar is completely dissolved.  Pour into a jar and refrigerate the cooled chai.

To serve, pour 1 part concentrate and 2 parts of milk (I like almond milk) into a glass or mug.  Add ice for iced chai, or heat in the microwave to enjoy warm!


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