Tag Archives: honey

DIY Tea & Honey Gift Set

18 May

I have always hated coffee, and I’ve always loved tea. Of course, growing up in the south meant super sweet, super strong iced tea. (In case you’re wondering, outside of my mom’s house and local, out-of-the-way barbecue joints, the best place to get a good sweet tea is Bojangles, the second best is Chick-Fil-A, and the third is McDonald’s. I have opinions on this.)

As an adult, I still enjoy a good glass of sweet tea, especially when I’m eating barbecue or fried chicken. But I’ve expanded to hot tea, and I really enjoy a classic cup of black tea as well as various herbals. My rising interest in tea began with a search for a healthier alternative to the Coke I’d been having daily, and then really took off as I started watching BBC shows. (When every character has at least one cup of tea per episode, I just start thinking, “Well yes, a cuppa would be quite nice.”) Nowadays, take me to a nice little tea shop, and I’ll be lost for hours.

I wanted to share my love for tea with others, so I put together this adorable little tea set as gifts for my coworkers one Christmas. They would make excellent small gifts anytime of the year — for teacher appreciation, hostess gifts, anything. I think these particular pieces would serve better for occasions needing multiple sets, so you can order in bulk, but do whatever works for you.

Here’s what you need:

Tea supplies

1) Tea – Oliver Pluff & Co’s Signature Earl Grey is my absolute favorite right now – I drink a cup every morning. I’ve also purchased looseleaf tea from The Spice & Tea Exchange and from Teavana, and I’ve ordered tea and herbs (lavender, lemongrass, ginger, fennel) online. The cool part about this project is that you can blend your own flavors!

2) Press ‘N Seal Tea Bags – I found some on Ebay.

3) Sweetener of your choice – For this project, I used these super awesome honey lollipops. They come in delicious flavors like ginger, jasmine, or lemon. I would also recommend mini jars of honey. Savannah Bee Company has my favorite honey.

4) I found both the green chevron gift bags and the gray & white baker’s twine on Pick Your Plum.

Now all you have to do is assemble! Read the notes that came with your tea purchase or just do a little googling to figure out how much tea to put in your tea bags. Each tea is different, and each tea drinker has their own preference. But a good general rule of thumb is a heaping teaspoon per six ounces of water. However, most Americans use coffee mugs rather than traditional tea cups, so they pour considerably more than six ounces, resulting in a pretty weak cup of tea. So for my tea bags, I went with two flat teaspoons per tea bag. Not too much, not too little, IMHO.

Looseleaf Tea

Seal your tea bags with an iron. I actually have a hair straightener that I have dedicated solely to crafting purposes, which is way more easy to handle than a big iron. My bags sealed within 5 seconds.

IMG_3120

I recommend placing your tea bags within a plastic bag to keep the tea airtight before placing in your gift bag. A zip-top bag would be fine. I put 5 tea bags in a 6×3.75″ clear treat bag that I picked up at AC Moore and sealed them shut with cute washi tape I got from Pick Your Plum.

IMG_3122

The bag of tea bags and the honey stick went into the gift bag, tied shut with baker’s twine. I didn’t get a picture of it, but I also wrote the name of the tea (including info about caf/decaf!) and instructions for steeping time on the blank side of a business-card-size piece of pretty scrapbook paper and added that to the gift set.

Tea & Honey Gift Set

Go forth and give! I think anyone would appreciate this lovely little gift set.

Linking Up With:

Let It Shine from Still Being Molly
Made by you Monday from Skip to my Lou
Create It Thursday from Lamberts Lately

Advertisements

Honey Apple Cake with Vanilla Glaze

9 Sep

Shanah Tovah! I guess I’m a little late with my new year’s greetings, but the sentiment still stands.

The BF and I had been planning a trip with friends to Gordonsville, Virginia, for months. One minute I was thinking about the trip, and the next I was baking a cake and wishing the BF a happy new year. He was confused. Maybe you are too. To illuminate, here was my thought process:

  • I should bake a dessert to take with us
  • I have a ton of leftover apples from the Apple Festival
  • Why are there so many Jewish blogs coming up when I search for apple cake recipes?
  • It’s Rosh Hashanah! My friends celebrate Rosh Hashanah!
  • What’s Rosh Hashanah?
  • Google says apples with honey are a traditional Rosh Hashanah food item
  • Apple honey cake!
  • Happy New Year!

I don’t always vocalize all those steps in between the first and last point, so sometimes people are confused what I’m talking about. At any rate, I was excited that so many pieces came together for this dessert to fit perfectly into our weekend trip.

Apple Honey Cake

Even if you or your friends don’t celebrate Rosh Hashanah, this cake is amazing. And its delicious spice, honey, and apple flavors are really getting me in the mood for fall. I used the most delicious local wildflower honey for this, and the honey flavor was super intense. Apparently wildflower honey is stronger than clover honey, which is what most honey is in the States.

Shanah Tovah!

A small note on the recipe: the original recipe said to bake it for 75-90 minutes because the batter is so wet. I did not find this to be the case. I baked it for closer to 65-75 minutes, and I thought it turned out a little dry. I imagine it might depend on the quantity/type of apples you use, and maybe even on the type of honey you use, I’m not sure. So my warning to you is to just keep checking your cake with the toothpick test, and don’t freak out if it takes way shorter or way longer than the recipe says.

Honey Apple Cake adapted from The Shiksa in the Kitchen 

3 eggs
3/4 cup honey
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/4 cup canola oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
4 Granny Smith apples — peeled, cored, and shredded

Apple Honey BatterPeel, core, and shred your apples. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs until they are frothy. Whisk in the honey, white sugar, brown sugar, oil, and vanilla.

In a separate medium mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. Incorporate the flour mixture into the liquid, and stir to blend. Fold in the shredded apples.

Grease a bundt pan, and pour the batter into the pan. Bake cake in preheated oven for 60-90 minutes. Check repeatedly with the toothpick test — when a toothpick or wooden skewer inserted into the thickest part of the cake comes out clean, it’s done.

Let the cake cool for about 10 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack. Allow cake to cool completely before frosting.

If you want to get super fancy, here’s how to decorate it: Place foil or pan on the counter, and then place the cake – still on wire rack – overtop the foil. Use a fine-mesh sieve or sifter to sprinkle a few tablespoons of powdered sugar overtop the cake. Fill a plastic baggie with the vanilla glaze and cut a tiny corner of the bag off. Drizzle the glaze in a zig-zag pattern over the top of the cake. Let stand at room temperature until glaze sets, about 15 minutes.

Vanilla Glaze from Bon Appetit

2/3 cup powdered sugar
4 teaspoons (or more) milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Sift powdered sugar into a mixing bowl. Add milk and vanilla, and whisk to blend.

Add more milk by 1/4 teaspoons to thicken glaze if necessary.

Linking up With:

Funday Monday from Still Being Molly and Lipgloss and Crayons
Block Party from Sumo’s Sweet Stuff
Made by you Monday from Skip to my Lou
Time to Sparkle from Love Grows WildInside BruCrew LifeThe Recipe Critic, and The Gunny Sack
Create It Thursday from Lamberts Lately
All Things Pretty from Sparkles and a Stove and My Fashion Forward Blog

Lemon-Glazed Ginger Cookies

19 Mar

I haven’t been baking much lately, even though I’m supposedly a “Bake-aholic,” so I decided to stop being lazy and try something new. The original recipe for these delicious cookies was in one of my Martha Stewart holiday cookie magazines. I edited it slightly, using fresh ginger rather than candied ginger, and I thought they came out great. They’re more of a cake-like cookie, and the cookie itself isn’t very sweet, but it meshes perfectly with the super-sweet lemon glaze.

First, I prepared my ginger, because I used fresh ginger, and I figured it would take a while. But trust me, fresh ginger is worth it! It’s not that it even tastes way better than ground ginger spice, it’s just totally different. I used a flat grater to grate about 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh ginger. Tip: Freeze your ginger first!! It will grate sooooo much more easily, it won’t be as messy, and you won’t lose any of the flavorful juice.

I whisked to combine 2 cups all-purpose flour, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, and 3/4 teaspoon salt, and set it aside.

In a separate bowl, I combined 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) softened butter and 1 cup packed dark-brown sugar. Then I beat it with the hand mixer on medium for about 3 minutes, until it was a bit fluffy. I added in all that ginger I grated up and beat the mixture for another 2 minutes. Then I beat in 1 egg and 2 tablespoons vanilla until well combined.

I Need 3 Hands
I reduced the speed of the mixer to low and added the flour mixture a little at a time, beating until just combined.

Cookie Batter
The dough was much stickier than I expected, so I divided into two sections, wrapped it in plastic wrap, and left it in the fridge overnight.

So the next day, I came back, set the oven to 350 F, and got to work on the dough. I wasn’t going to try to roll the dough out and use cookie cutters, because we all know what happens when I try that alone, so instead I rolled it into a log and sliced it into rounds. To do it this way, it actually works better to be almost frozen because then the knife doesn’t mush it while you’re trying to cut it. And I’ll be honest here: one of the dough sections wasn’t cold enough, it mushed like crazy, and I ended up molding little flattened balls of dough onto the parchment paper with very sticky hands. This dough is sticky enough that if I had one, I would probably use a mini ice cream scooper or a melon baller to drop rounds instead.

Cookie Dough Rounds
So once they were all lined up on a pan lined with parchment paper, I put them in the oven for about 14 minutes, rotating once halfway through. Once they were slightly golden around the edges, I pulled them out and let them cool completely on a wire rack.

Looking at cookies through the grimy window of my oven.Cooling the Cookies
While they were cooling, I mixed up the lemon glaze. This was so delicious that I followed it exactly like the original Martha Stewart recipe. First I cut a lemon in half and juiced one half of it to get about 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice. Then I took that same half and grated the peel on the flat grater — just like I did for the ginger — to get about 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest.

Zesting a Lemon
I whisked to combine 2 cups confectioners’ sugar, the lemon juice and zest, 1 tablespoon honey, 2 1/2 tablespoons water, and a pinch of salt. It was pretty easy to get this nice and smooth, and ohmygosh it was so good. I was dipping my fingers in it the entire time I was baking. I will be putting this lemon glaze on everything.

Glaze IngredientsLemon Glaze
Then I just took my lemon glaze and put it on top of my cooled ginger cookies. The whole drizzling thing was just not working for me.

Drizzling Was Not Working
So instead I just spooned it on top in big blobs and let it run to cover the whole top of the cookie.

Glazing a CookieGlazing
For the second half of the batch, I set up a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and then rested a wire rack on top of it. I set the cookies on the wire rack and glazed them there, so that the excess glaze could run off the sides and be caught by the pan below, instead of pooling unattractively around the cookie. This gave the cookie a really nice look. I was in a hurry (when am I not?), so I popped the cookies in the fridge so the glaze would set more quickly. But it would harden enough to be transportable in probably half an hour.

Lemon-Glazed Ginger Cookies

 

How Sue Sees It:
– I suggest storing these in an airtight container with wax paper between layers of cookies. Martha says they can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 2 days. I think throwing away cookies after only 2 days is ridiculous.
– I ran a little short on the lemon glaze near the end, and I tried to quickly whip up a second batch with some of that lemon juice that’s in the plastic lemon bottle. DO NOT DO THIS. It was disgusting and I threw it away.
– Line anything going into the oven with parchment paper and everything else with either parchment or wax paper. Then you can just throw away the mess.
– You can add food coloring to the glaze if you want. It looks kind of freakish and a bit less appetizing, but I dyed some of it green for St. Patrick’s Day.