Chai Spice

If you love Chai Spice, try this recipe to mix Chai Spice at home.  Add this flavorful spice mixture to add to tea, cocoa, oatmeal and baked goods.  Make it for yourself or give it to a friend as a thoughtful holiday gift.

Enjoy!

Chai Spice

  • Servings: 10
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Easy recipe to mix Chai Spice at home for baked goods or to give someone as a gift.

Ingredients

  • 4 teaspoons Ground Cinnamon
  • 4 teaspoons Ground Cardamom
  • 2 teaspoons Ground Ginger
  • 2 teaspoons Ground Cloves
  • 2 teaspoons Ground Nutmeg

Directions

  1. Whisk all ingredients in a small bowl until all ingredients are combined.
  2. Transfer to an air-tight jar.

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Mastic Scented Salmon

Mastic Tears

Mastic?

If you have not tried it…you need to!

Mastic will add a very unique (“in a good way”) pine-like flavor backdrop to your dish.

It is typically used for cake, pudding and ice cream recipes.

The suggested serving is 1/4 teaspoon of ground mastic for every 4 servings that your recipe calls for.

My creative cooking “take” was to make poached salmon. Below is an easy recipe that is good to have on file…especially when you need to pull dinner together quickly.

Mastic tears are harvested from the sap of the Gum Mastic tree. It is also used to cure ailments as well as have aphrodisiac qualities. (google “mastic tears” to learn more)

Be sure to look for mastic tears at your favorite spice shop or Mediterranean market.

Enjoy!

Denise

Mastic Scented Poached Salmon

Mastic Scented Salmon

1/2 teaspoon Mastic tears
1/2 cup White Wine
1/2 cup Water
2 Garlic Cloves, finely minced
1 teaspoon dried Marjoram
1 teaspoon dried Parsley
1/4 teaspoon Hot Paprika
1 tablespoon Butter, cut into small cubes
1-1/2 pounds of Salmon
Salt & Pepper (to taste)

  • Crush the mastic tears with the 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt with a mortar and pestle; set aside.

Mastic Tears and Kosher Salt

Mastic Ground with Kosher Salt

  • Add the white wine, water and garlic to a large saucepan. Warm over medium heat.
  • Add the salmon to the saucepan.
  • Season the salmon evenly with the marjoram, parsley, hot paprika and mastic-salt mixture. Add salt & pepper to taste.
  • Top with butter cubes and bring to a boil.

Mastic Scented Salmon Poaching

  • Cover and reduce heat to a simmer until fish is opaque and firm (about 15 minutes).

Note: I served with brown rice and steamed veggies….. Delish!

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Nutella Frosted Saffron Cupcakes

I decided to make Saffron Cupcakes for my Saffron dessert post.

Hmmm. What kind of frosting?

Well, of course I had to pair these yummy cupcakes with Nutella frosting!

The result was better than expected and the flavor combination was perfect….

I took some cupcakes in for my coworkers to sample. They loved them!

You will find both recipes below….

Enjoy! Denise

P.S. if you want, swap out the frosting with Saffron Buttercream instead….

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Saffron Cupcakes

1 box Pound Cake Mix (I used Betty Crocker)
2/3 cup Milk
2 Eggs
1/2 cup Butter, softened
1/4 teaspoon ground Cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon Saffron
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
6 Ferrero Rocher Chocolates, chopped
Powder Sugar

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray mini-bundt cake pan with cooking spray or line your cupcake tins. Set aside.
  • Place saffron in the mortar and pestil. Press to crumble the threads.

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  • Warm milk for 45-60 seconds. Add saffron and allow to steep for ten minutes.

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  • Add cake mix, steeped milk, eggs, butter, cinnamon and vanilla to a large mixing bowl.

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  • Mix on low for 30 seconds. Increase mixer speed to medium and mix for 3 minutes.

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  • Fill each mini-bundt halfway. Smooth tops with a spoon.
  • Bake for 20 minutes (or until cake tester comes out clean).

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  • Remove from baking pan and cool on a wire rack.
  • Fill the center of the mini-bundt cakes with Nutella Frosting (see recipe listed below).
  • Top with chopped with chocolates.
  • Dust with powdered sugar.

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Nutella Frosting

1-1/2 cups Powdered Sugar
3-4 tablespoons Hazlenut-flavored Creamer
1/4 cup Nutella

  • Add all ingredients to a medium bowl.
  • Mix at a medium speed until you get to a creamy frosting consistency.

Note: If you prefer a traditional cupcake, fill the cupcake liners 2/3 full. Frost as you like with the Nutella Frosting and place half of a Ferrero Rocher chocolate on top.

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Saffron Tea for Two

Recently, I went to my local Mediterranean store to buy saffron.

The store owner told me that I had to try it in my tea. She explained the process to me.

Below is my take on the recipe…

It is so worth the splurge!

Next time you buy saffron, be sure to treat yourself to this beverage.

Enjoy!

Denise

Saffron Tea

Saffron Tea for Two

2 Cups of Boiling Water
2 Green Tea Bags
Pinch Saffron

  • Place tea bags and saffron in your tea filter.

Saffron Tea

Saffron Tea

    • Pour boiling water over tea bags/saffron.Cover and steep 3-5 minutes.

Saffron Tea

  • Serve (adding your favorite sweetener).

Yum!

Creamy Saffron Pastina with Mini Turkey Meatballs

This month I am cooking with one of my favorite spices…Saffron!

I love the floral aroma and gorgeous color it adds to food.

My first recipe combines two of my favorite comfort foods…creamy pastina and mini meatball soup.

The addition of saffron along with the layering of flavors and textures is absolute perfection.

Everyone at my dinner table agreed that this dish is a new regular….  Hope you try it and enjoy it as much as we did.

Best part? The leftovers were even better the next day!

Enjoy! Denise

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Creamy Saffron Pastina with Turkey Mini Meatballs

2 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Shallot, finely chopped
1-1/2 teaspoons Saffron threads, divided
64 ounces of Chicken Stock
20.8 ounces of Ground Turkey Breast
2 carrots, chopped
2 cups of Frozen Petite Peas
1/2 teaspoon ground Nutmeg, divided
1 Bay Leaf
1 Egg
1 teaspoon of Italian Seasoning
1/2 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
1/2 cup Panko Breadcrumbs
1/4 teaspoon of Hot Paprika
One box (13.25 ounces) of Mini Pasta Shells
10 oz. Lite Alfredo Sauce
Salt & Pepper

1. Prepare Mini Turkey Meatballs

  •  In a large bowl, mix the ground turkey, egg, parmesan, breadcrumbs, hot paprika, Italian seasoning, 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste.
  •  Roll into mini meatballs ( about 1 rounded teaspoon each) and set aside.

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2. Prepare Saffron Stock and Cook Mini Turkey Meatballs

  • In a large stock pot, warm the extra virgin olive oil over medium high heat.
  • Add the shallots. Cook until shallots are translucent.
  • Add chicken stock, carrots , bay leaf, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, salt and pepper (to taste).
  • Bring to a boil. Add 3/4-1 teaspoon of saffron and frozen peas.
  • Simmer until carrots are tender (about 15 minutes).
  • Drop mini meatballs into the saffron stock.
  • Simmer for 15-20 minutes until turkey is thoroughly cooked.
  • Keep warm.

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3. Prepare Pasta

  • Bring water to a boil.
  • Add remaining 1/2 teaspoon saffron to pasta water.
  • Add pasta to the boiling water. (Check pasta box for cooking times.)
  • When pasta is cooked to al dente, drain pasta (reserving 1 cup of the pasta water).

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4. Prepare Saffron Pasta Sauce

  • In a large saucepan, warm the Alfredo sauce. Whisk in 1 cup of the reserved pasta water and 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper.
  • Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer for 5-10 minutes.
  • Toss pasta with Saffron Pasta Sauce to coat.

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5. Serve

  • First, add a serving of the creamy pastina to a bowl.
  • Next, layer the mini meatballs, carrots, peas and saffron stock.
  • Garnish with grated cheese, red pepper flakes.
  • Serve with garlic bread.

Enjoy!

Cardamom Waffles {Christmas Breakfast}

Why not spice up your Christmas breakfast with cardamom?

Every year my family looks forward to Christmas waffles. I have tried several recipes over the years (some more complicated than others). On holiday mornings, simple recipes packed with flavor are my ticket to getting breakfast on the table with no stress.

So, for this recipe, I decided to adapt a classic waffle recipe using Bisquick.

We did a “test run” this past weekend…

Cardamom is known as being the “queen of spices”. These Cardamom Waffles are now going to rule our Christmas breakfast every year…

We found that if you put 1/2 cup of the waffle batter onto the center of a belgium waffle maker, the waffles look like snowflakes.

Have a great holiday! Enjoy!

Denise

Cardamom Waffles

Cardamom Waffles

Makes 5 Belgium Waffles

2 cups Bisquick Baking Mix

1-1/3 cups Milk

2 tablespoons Vegetable Oil

1 Egg

1 tablespoon Cardamom

  • Heat your waffle iron according to your manufacturer instructions.
  • Mix all ingredients in a large bowl.

Cardamom Waffles Batter

  • Spray your waffle iron with cooking spray.
  • Place 1/2 cup of waffle batter onto the center of the waffle iron.

Cardamom Waffles

  • Close waffle iron and steam according to your manufacturer instructions.

Cardamom Waffles

  •  Repeat with remaining batter.
Grilled Cardamom Cumin Tuna

Tuna Medallions Marinated with Orange Juice, Cardamom & Cumin

Cardamom is one of my favorite spices.   I love to pair it with cinnamon when I bake.  Some call it the “Queen of Spices”. 

It is a bit pricier than most spices.  But, definitely worth it!   It doesn’t have a long shelf life.  So, be sure to buy in small quantities.

I wanted to try to do a savory dish with this spice.  This week, when I placed my online grocery order, I saw that tuna medallions were on sale. Below is a recipe that pairs the tuna medallions with cardamom with cumin and coriander and orange juice. 

The result was right on!  The aroma was just amazing.  You have to try this one…

Enjoy!

Denise

P.S. Yes, you read that right…online grocery shopping.   I am a huge fan of online grocery shopping.  I place my order, schedule my pickup, pull up and they bring it out.  Great timesaver!

Grilled Cardamom Cumin Tuna

Tuna Medallions Marinated

     with Orange Juice, Cardamom & Cumin

1/2 cup Orange Juice (freshly squeezed preferred)

1/4 cup Olive Oil

2 teaspoons ground Cardamom

1 teaspoon ground Cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground Coriander

1 teaspoon Salt

1/2 teaspoon Pepper

  • In a small bowl (or measuring cup), whisk together the orange juice, olive oil, cardamom, cumin, coriander, salt and pepper.
  • Place the tuna medallions in a casserole dish.  Cover with the marinade.  Toss to coat.  Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 30 minutes.  Be sure to flip the tuna every 10 minutes.

  • Heat your grill pan.  When hot, add your tuna medallions.  Grill to your preference for “done-ness”.  (We like it medium-well.)

Pumpkin Turkey Chili (Calabaza Chili)

With the hustle and bustle of the holidays, it is good to have an easy and delicious chili recipe on hand that is hearty and “heart healthy”.. 

Did you know that pumpkin is a  “power food” with a ton of health benefits?

Why not double the recipe and freeze half?

Enjoy!

Denise

Tip:  Be sure to stock pile Pumpkin Puree this time of year (when it is readily available and on sale).

Pumpkin Turkey Chili (Calabaza Chili)

2 tablespoons Olive Oil

1 medium Onion, chopped

2 cloves of Garlic, minced

20 oz. Ground Turkey

7 oz. Smoked Turkey Sausage

2 (15 oz.) cans Black Beans, drained and rinsed

2 (11 oz.) cans Mexicorn

15 oz. can Crushed Tomatoes

15 oz. can Pumpkin Puree

32 oz. Chicken Stock

2 cups Water  (I fill the emptied can of crushed tomatoes)

1.25 oz packet of Reduced Sodium Chili Seasoning

1 tablespoon Unsweetened Cocoa Powder

1 tablespoon ground Cumin

1 tablespoon dried Oregano

1/4 teaspoon ground Cloves

1/2 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper

2 bay leaves

1/4 cup fresh Cilantro, chopped

Salt & Pepper

  • Quarter the smoked turkey sausage lengthwise and thinly slice.  Set aside.
  • Warm 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a stock pot over medium-high heat.
  • Add the onion and garlic.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Sautee until vegetables are tender (about 3-4 minutes).
  • Add ground turkey and sliced smoked turkey sausage to onion/garlic mixture. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Sautee until ground turkey is cooked through.
  • Add the black beans, mexicorn, crushed tomatoes, pumpkin puree, chicken stock and water to the stock pot.   Stir to combine the ingredients.
  • Add the chili seasoning, unsweetened cocoa powder, cumin, oregano, cloves, cayenne pepper and bay leaves.
  • Stir to combine the ingredients.  Adjust the salt and pepper to taste.
  • Bring to a boil.  Then simmer 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  • Stir in the fresh cilantro.  Discard the bay leaves and keep warm until ready to serve.
  • Serve with your choice of “fixings”.

Cinnamon Spiced Cappuccino Cannoli Dip

This “not diet friendly” dessert recipe was actually inspired by one of my favorite low calorie desserts/snacks….

It is all about balance.  So, go ahead and have a treat once in a while.  Be sure to counter the calorie intake with exercise and be mindful of portions.  

Definitely worth the extra workout… 

Enjoy!

Denise

Cappuccino Cannoli Dip with Cookies

Cinnamon Cappuccino Cannoli Dip

8 oz. Cream Cheese, softened
1 cup Ricotta Cheese (I used part-skim)
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 teaspoon Espresso Powder
3/4 teaspoon Cinnamon
2 tablespoons Brown Sugar
1 cup Confectioners Sugar
3/4 cup Mini Chocolate Chips

  • In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, ricotta cheese, vanilla, cinnamon, and espresso powder until creamy.

Cappuccino Cannoli Dip Preparation I

  • Gradually add the sugars and mix until well blended.

Cappuccino Cannoli Dip

  • Stir in mini chocolate chips.

Cappuccino Cannoli Dip

Cappuccino Cannoli Dip

  • Transfer to an airtight container.  Refrigerate overnight (or at least 4-6 hours).
  • When ready to serve, transfer to a decorative bowl.
  • Serve with chocolate graham crackers, vanilla wafer or strawberries.

Note:

  • This was a big hit! 
  • We think that Polish Chrusciki would  have been really good because they have a flavor/texture reminiscent of cannoli  shells.  Next time….
  • My “diet” version is 1/2 cup fat free ricotta, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract, pinch of cinnamon, 1 packet of Splenda.  Mix well with a spoon.  Sprinkle with 6 mini chocolate chips.  Yum! 🙂
Caribbean Cocoa Bean Muffins

Coo Coo for Caribbean Cocoa Bean Muffins

A few weeks ago, I was browsing the grocery store at lunch time.     A chocolate display caught my eye….in particular.. ground cocoa beans.   I’ve been reading recently about the health benefits of cocoa beans. 

They are very tasty…not as bitter as I expected them to be….and the flavor seemed to linger.   Pure chocolate flavor at its best without added sugar…. 

Hmmm…Creative Cooking Opportunity…

The Versatile Vanilla series was so much fun.  Chocolate is next !

Below is my recipe that is inspired by Caribbean flavors…chocolate, bananas, coconut, rum and spices.

Enjoy!

Denise

Caribbean Cocoa Bean Muffins

Caribbean Cocoa Bean Muffins

Yield:  12 Muffins

Ingredients

1 cup All-Purpose Flour

3/4 cup Whole Wheat Flour

2 teaspoons Baking Powder

1/4 teaspoon Baking Soda

1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon Cardamom

1/2 teaspoon Salt

2 Bananas (very ripe)

1/2 cup Sweetened Flaked Coconut

3/4 cup Sugar

1/3 cup Vegetable Oil

2 large eggs

1/2 teaspoon Rum extract

1/2 teaspoon Coconut extract

1/3 cup Ground Cocoa Beans

Instructions

  • Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.  Line a muffin tin and set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, use a whisk to combine the flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  • In a large bowl, add oil, eggs, bananas, coconut, sugar, rum extract and coconut extract.  Use a mixer to blend ingredients.

Preparing Caribbean Cocoa Beans Muffins

  • Add dry ingredients to banana mixture.  Mix well.

Preparing Caribbean Cocoa Bean Muffins

  • Stir in the ground cocoa beans.

Caribbean Cocoa Bean Muffins Preparation

  • Divide batter between the 12 muffin cups.

Caribbean Cocoa Bean Muffins Prep

  • Bake for 18-20 minutes (until cake test comes out clean).
  • Cool on wire rack for 10 minutes.

Caribbean Cocoa Bean Muffins