Spicy Tips: Back with a fun Iced Tea Tip!

It certainly has been a while since I have found time to sit down and write out new recipes. Being a parent has that ability to deplete any time you had hoped you would have to share your thoughts with others. (Just looking at the amount of drafts I have yet to finish is enough to give me palpitations….I need to do better.)

But never fear, I am back with a fun tip for those looking for ways to quickly make one of my favorite warm weather drinks: Iced Tea!

Now I have done the sometimes laborious process of making tea with hot tea bags, followed by whisking in honey to the warmed mixture to incorporate and a whole lemon or two to make one delicious drink! Yet sometimes, time is of the essence and if you’re short on time but still want to make that summertime nectar without using a pre-made mix, I’ve got a great solution!

So one of my favorite shortcuts to making an easy iced tea is all thanks to Lipton® and their fabulous Cold Brew Bags. (They’re in just about any supermarket and you can click here for some info: Lipton Cold Brew Bags). One bag per 4 cups of water (you will probably use 2 bags per pitcher, unless you want to add a flavor) and it only takes about 5 minutes of brewing time before it’s done. If plain tea isn’t enough and you want to add a flavor to it, you can always brew a few cups of hot water and add your flavored tea there, then mix the two together.

And if you’re like me, you want to add some flavor like lemon or honey/sugar to that mix. For a nice little hit of lemon flavor, I have to admit that my name is Jenn and I am an addict of the Arnold Palmer. For those of who you don’t know what that is, it is half iced tea and half lemonade mixed together. But for this purpose, I would recommend using maybe 1-2 cans of Minute Maid® Lemonade to one pitcher. (Not the frozen kind, but a can from a 12-pack. You can also get a carton or container of lemonade of any brand you like and adjust the amount of lemonade you put in to your liking.) Not quite the half and half of an Arnold Palmer, but leaves the iced tea with a nice sweetened lemon flavor that I know most of us love.

More importantly, it is a way to add sugar to your drink without the sweetness being too much. The lemonade blends nicely and if you still find that the lemonade makes it a little sweet for you, always remember the best part about iced tea are those ice cubes that clink around in the glass when you go to take a sip!

And as always, enjoy!

– Jenny V

 

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The greatest honey love of all….

A while ago I had posted about curry powder, which leads me right back to the recipe that required it first: honey chicken.

A few well-known facts about my honey chicken recipe:

It’s super easy to make. (I mean it. If you can master that curry powder recipe, then this will be a breeze, especially since the curry powder is a key ingredient in this dish. And if you need a refresher on the curry powder, then just click here.)

You need to be attentive to this dish. (Once you see the picture, you’ll understand why. You want that golden color with just a hint of browning when you bake it, so a lot of love and care goes into this meal. But again, it is easy so no worries. And when I mean easy, I mean super easy.)

My husband goes crazy for this dish every time I make it. (It’s one of the few leftovers he’ll eat over and over again….and if you know Matt, he’s not a big leftovers kind of person.)

And the sauce that is created while baking? Yummy is an understatement. It’s gooey and buttery and sweet with a hint of salt. Trust me on this, if made right the outside looks sticky and sweet, but that salty savory bite is worth it. Also, the yummy factor applies when you add a side of mashed potatoes or possibly egg noodles too. (You need a carb or starchy side because honey chicken is a great “stick to your bones” type of dish.)

I love the way sweet ingredients can lend themselves to savory dishes….be adventurous and give them a try!

And yes, enjoy!

~Jenny V


  

   
Jenn’s Honey Chicken

1 package of chicken thighs, bone-in, fat slightly trimmed (if you’d prefer)

1 stick unsalted butter, melted

1/2 cup honey

1 teaspoon curry powder (refer to my Curry Powder recipe)

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup yellow mustard

Directions:

1) Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

2) In large baking dish, place chicken thighs, skin side up.

3) In large measuring cup or small bowl, combine remaining ingredients and whisk until mixed, then pour mixture over chicken evenly. Make sure to coat each piece.

4) Bake for 75-90 minutes, basting thighs in mixture every 15 minutes. When skin looks golden and starts to take on a deep brown color on most of the pieces, remove and serve.

 

This tea is twisted (and soothing) in a delicious way

If there was a drink that I could drink practically every day (aside from red wine and coffee), it would have to be tea. Sweetened, unsweetened, Green Tea, herbal tea, etc…you name a tea, I most likely have tried it! (Fun fact: I get more excited about finding Tea Rooms over a bar….and Tea Rooms more times than not have delicious blueberry scones with clotted cream……mmmmmmmm) So it’s no surprise that when the warmer weather starts to peek out a little bit, I go for my various teas and herbs to create some fun new iced tea concoctions!

And especially when Matt is away for work purposes, the creative concoctions can get a little interesting, like my latest new love: French Lavender. Now, most of us know that lavender has an extremely soothing fragrance, but can also be applied to use in the kitchen. And thanks to my absolutely fabulous friend Julie, who purchased the French Lavender I had placed on our wedding registry, I got inspired to try out this aromatic in my standard recipe for iced tea!

With iced tea, I encourage experimenting. It doesn’t always need to be the standard. You can add herbal teas (and mix’em up), you can add honey, mint, lemon, different spices, etc. I always try to be different by making half of the tea bags I use a regular tea, while the other half are a flavor/specialty tea. It’s always nice to impart just a bit of flavor if you’re not too keen on going solely on one flavor.

The possibilities are truly endless! And to be different, try using Mason Jars instead of a giant pitcher. It looks prettier and also a great way to serve drinks for a party/get-together! (I unabashedly admit that four of those jars of Peach Lavender tea are already gone….three of them within a couple hours.)

While this is only one take, I encourage each and every one of you to try a variation and make it your own! And remember, the measurements I use don’t have to be what you use. Adjust accordingly to your own tastes, especially on the strength of the tea. But I do recommend a little extra water to boil first, because some of it will evaporate in the process.

Enjoy!

~ Jenny V


Jenn’s Peach Lavender Iced Tea

Ingredients:

10 bags of Black Tea

8 bags of Peach Tea

3-4 teaspoons French Lavender (if you have an infuser ball, I recommend using it for the lavender)

1/2 – 3/4 cup honey

20 cups water (in an 8 qt. pot)

Optional:

12 Mason Jars (in place of a pitcher)

Directions:

1) In an 8 qt. pot, pour water in and cover on high heat

2) Unwrap all tea bags and either twist all strings together or cut strings entirely (Note: it makes life easier if you cut the strings, especially since the bags will need to sit and brew for a while)

3) When water is close to boiling, put in French Lavender in infuser ball and place in water. (This will stay in even as tea steeps, but since the flavor is very delicate, you want to allow time for the lavender to impart flavor into the water.)

4) As soon as water is boiling, add honey and start whisking in (You want to put the honey in when the water is hot – it’s a great way to get sweetness in and the temperature of that water will allow for it to meld quicker.)

5) Place tea bags in water and turn off heat. Cover and allow time to steep, at least 15 minutes (or longer, if you prefer a stronger brew). Place pot on a towel or cool burner so that the tea has time to cool down before you put it in the fridge.

6) Once cooled slightly, ladle into mason jars, close with lid, and place in fridge for 2-3 hours before serving. Garnish with lemon.