Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Happy (Almost) Thanksgiving!

I know I've been a bit neglectful to my blog, but it's for a very good reason! I'm currently back home in NC for the week of Thanksgiving, followed by a lovely week lounging with my husband in the Dominican Republic. Once I return from my two weeks of rest and relaxation, I'll be back at it! Especially with Christmas right around the corner, I have plenty of homemade dishes and gifts for friends and family to make! I'll be posting a list of some of the holiday food gifts that are catching my attention.

I hope you all have a great Thanksgiving and stuff yourselves full of turkey, stuffing, and sweet potato casserole!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Tea Time: Andrews & Dunham Caravan Resurrected Tea

I recently tried a tea that I had purchased at the NYC Coffee and Tea Festival earlier this year. I have no idea why it took me over six months to try it for the first time, but at least it was kept fresh in its sealed canister!

Andrews & Dunham Damn Fine Tea, started by a duo of quirky but very friendly guys that I met at the festival, started their company in 2008. Due to their company's high tea standards, they only offer a few teas for purchase on their website (currently there are four available). Luckily, I was able to try all four and my personal favorite, the one I purchased, was their Caravan Resurrected tea

It is a delicious smoky black tea from China, not for the faint of heart who don't appreciate bold flavors. I started with the recommended brewing time of 4 minutes since I have the tendency of leaving my tea bag/infuser in the cup the entire time I'm drinking it, but had a feeling this one could make a turn for the worse if it's brewed too long. I definitely enjoyed the flavor, but since I generally like a strong black tea, I brewed for 5 minutes the next time. 

This was a good brewing time for me (I may even push it to 5.5 minutes!) - great smoky flavor without being too overpowering to make it difficult to enjoy a full cup. I don't know why it took me so long to try this tea again, but I'm so happy I have! It'll definitely be in my regular tea rotation now!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Spiced Butternut Squash Soup

I really don't think I'm ready for the effects of daylight savings ending and the onset of late fall into winter. Do these sound fun to you? 
  • Heading to work in the morning in mid 30 degree weather
  • Leaving work at 5pm when it's already really dark out
  • No longer being able to comfortably wear flats (although I'll continue to do that as long as I can stand it)
I don't think so! Despite my whining, I'm always looking on the bright side and that means I can look forward to making really comforting soups to warm myself and the hubby up! I bought a butternut squash at the farmers market this weekend so I knew I wanted to make butternut squash soup.

There are so many butternut squash soup recipes out there that I didn't know where to begin! Luckily, I remembered a recipe I found in the Meatless cookbook that I recently checked out from the library that sounded delicious - spiced butternut squash soup. I was able to find the same recipe online since it's a Martha Stewart recipe, which made me very happy since I really didn't want to type it all out.

That's going to be my soup very soon!
This soup has a lot of very satisfying, warm spices - turmeric, cinnamon, cloves and cardamom. I didn't have any ground cardamom so I added some extra cloves and put in a bit of ground coriander. The combination of these spices smelled unbelievably good when I mixed them in with onions, garlic and ginger so I knew the flavors would be delicious once everything cooked down.

The soup turned out beautifully after puréeing everything together with my immersion blender. It was a great consistency, the perfect thickness. The spices are definitely assertive and pack a punch in every bite, which I really like. There's a little tartness from the apple and the subtle sweetness from the squash and carrot.

This is just the first of many cold weather soups to come! I love the feeling of warmth coming over my body with each spoonful. What's better than that? Let me know your favorite fall soup recipes so I can build up my soup reservoir!