Light Russian Tea

It is funny how the changing seasons affect what you like to eat and drink. Fall brings a desire for warmth and spice. Which has me wanting a warm cup of Russian Tea; that simple mixture of powdered instant drinks and spices. It has been several years since I made up a batch. But, even though I was craving that spicy orange tea, I really did not want all the calories that are in the classic recipe. So I spent my morning calculating how to tweak the recipe, plus reduce the calories, without using artificial sweeteners. Tang is made with sugar, so the calories would need to be diluted by the rest of the ingredients. A packet of Crystal Light Pure Lemonade, which uses stevia, was in my pantry. It easily substituted for the sugared lemonade mix. I tried my combination without adding any additional sweetening, but the spices didn’t pop without it. I added 2 teaspoons of stevia powder, which was just the amount. My tea was delicious, and only 35 calories per serving.

Russian Tea

1 cup Tang powdered drink mix

1/2 cup Instant Unsweetened Tea

1 packet Crystal Light Pure Lemonade (pitcher pack)

1 1/2 teaspoons Cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon Cloves

1/8 teaspoon Ginger

2 teaspoons stevia powder

Shake all the ingredients together in a pint jar until well blended.

Mix one tablespoon in one cup of water, or 1 1/2 cups if you prefer a lighter drink. Enjoy, warm or cold.



Exceptional! Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

Every once in a while, a recipe gets better when you have to make a substitution, due to lack of the proper ingredient in your pantry. That is how my Chocolate Crinkle cookies when from good to exceptional! I only had a small amount of vegetable oil left, and I really wanted a chocolate cookie. I substituted two thirds of the oil with softened butter. The result was a better flavored, soft cookie that stayed moist and chewy for days.

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

1/2 c. softened butter
1/4 c. vegetable oil
2 c. sugar
3/4 c. cocoa
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 c. flour
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
*powdered sugar for coating cookies

Cream butter, vegetable oil, sugar and cocoa together. Fold in eggs, one at a time until smooth. Add vanilla and stir. Sift flour, salt and baking powder together. Stir flour mixture into wet ingredients, about 1/2 cup at a time until blended. Cover dough with plastic wrap and chill at least 3 hours or overnight. Drop teaspoons of dough into powdered sugar and roll into balls. Place on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes. Do not over bake. Place warm cookies on baking rack to cool. Store in tightly sealed container. Makes approximately 3 1/2 to 4 dozen.

*These roll well in granulated sugar, too. The last time I baked them, I divided the dough in half and made one half rolled in powdered sugar and one half in granulated.   Although there was not much difference in flavor, they did look nice when served together.




“Oat-standing” Bread (Triple Oatmeal Bread)

I always have enjoyed oatmeal bread, but have never found one that had quite enough oat flavor to satisfy me. This winter my bread making goal was to come up with an oatmeal bread that did just that. It took a few experiments to get the balance right, and now that spring has arrived I am ready to publish.  I settled on a combination of three types of oats; old-fashioned oatmeal, oat flour and steel cut oats. The cooked steel cut oats added a nice texture and all three gave enough oat flavor to the bread.  The applesauce and brown sugar add the sweetness needed to make the oats shine. Since the recipe turned out to make three loaves, I made one loaf in to a cinnamon swirl bread.  I am ready to make up another batch, because this bread has become another hit with my family, or as my son put it “Oat-standing”.

Triple Oatmeal Bread

1 cup old-fashioned oats
1 cup oat flour
6 cups bread flour (plus extra for kneading)
1/4 cup buttermilk powder
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup cooked steel cut oats*
1 1/3 cups warm water
1/2 cup applesauce
1/3 cup melted butter
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 Tablespoon yeast

In large bowl, sprinkle yeast on top of warm water. Let sit for five minutes to start activation. Stir in applesauce, brown sugar and cooked oatmeal. In separate bowl, mix bread flour with oat flour, old-fashioned oats, buttermilk powder and salt. Add one cup of flour mix at a time to wet ingredients until incorporated into a nicely shaped dough ball, Take dough ball out of bowl and knead on a lightly floured board for eight minutes. Place in large greased bowl and let rise in warm, draft free area until doubled. Punch down and shape into three loaves. Place each loaf into a 4 1/2 x 8 1/2 greased bread pan. Cover pans with towel and again let rise until doubled in a warm draft-free place. Bake for 30-35 minutes at 350º.

*I made up a batch of steel cut oats and froze them in one cup containers for my experimental loaves. A thaw in the microwave and they were ready to use.

For Cinnamon Swirl Loaf:

Roll one loaf out into rectangle that is 8″x 20″. Beat egg yolk mixed with one tablespoon of water and brush a thin layer onto the dough. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and raisins. Roll tightly and seal edges. Place in loaf pan and let rise until doubled. Bake the same as the regular loaves.

No Longer Stumped

Last year, a storm took down a major part of a large, Snow Crabapple tree in our yard. Later, the remaining part of the tree was cut down, leaving a large stump. Lately, I have been pondering what I could do with the leftover stump. The top of the stump has a hollowed out spot with some good, loose organic material. My first thought was to buy an ivy and let it trail down the side of the trunk. But, before I headed to the greenhouse to pick one out, I thought about the morning glory starts that were coming up from last years seeds in the side garden. I dug up 5 little seedlings, and planted them in the top. I covered the soil with a few cedar chips and gave them some water.

I’m hoping to have beautiful blue flowers trailing on the old stump by mid summer.

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