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Posted on Jul 29, 2013 in Food, Recipes | 11 comments

Homemade Bubble Milk Tea

So, I throw the word “Whasian” around here a lot. And yes, I know it’s partly because I have a bit of a complex about people not knowing that I’m half-Chinese… since I don’t look particularly Asian (except for maybe a handful of times of year, which usually coincide with things like Chinese New Year or my brother’s Chinese Banquet-style rehearsal dinner). Though, to be fair, I went on a cruise with my family the summer after my Freshman year in college, and the ship’s photographer thought that I was Ben’s girlfriend (gross) rather than an actual part of my family. So I think said complex is at least somewhat understandable.

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ANYWAY. For as much as I mention my ethnicity on this blog, I don’t really highlight too many Chinese recipes. Mostly, this is because my mom is such an amazing cook that I don’t dare try to copy her recipes for fear of ruining the dishes for myself. But that’s not to say I don’t prepare my fair share of Chinese cuisine. I love whipping up a batch of frozen xiao long bao at home (steamed soup dumplings), I adore going out to dim sum, and I am absolutely OBSESSED with bubble milk tea.

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Bubble milk tea, boba, pearl milk tea, zhen zhu nai cha — whatever you call it, I love it. I was first introduced to this most magic of beverages during the three years I spent living in Taiwan, and to this day it is one of the surest ways to make me a happy, happy girl. Unfortunately, all the most authentic bubble milk tea places around here seem to be up in Rockville, and I don’t enjoy braving Seven Corners traffic enough to frequent the Eden Center on a regular basis. So, I’ve had to figure out ways to satisfy my total obsession occasional craving on my own.

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Now, admittedly, I cheat and use a milk tea powder more often than not. But! For you folks, who have probably come here to read at least a somewhat healthy-ish recipe, I decided to brew up a batch from scratch. You’re very welcome. 😉

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Introducing my very own taste-tested and Whasian-approved recipe for bubble milk tea. And because I love you guys so much, I even made it dairy-free, don’tcha know! I used regular ol’ black tea bags, but if you really want to go authentic, head for your nearest Asian grocery store and pick up a can of looseleaf Hong Kong-style black tea. Also, since I imagine most of you don’t keep the pearls in your pantry, you can zip right over to Amazon.com and pick up a pack of tapioca pearls, along with some of those nifty fat bubble tea straws.

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Bubble Milk Tea
Makes 2 servings

Ingredients:

4 black tea bags, or equivalent looseleaf black tea
1 cup boiling water
1/4 cup uncooked tapioca pearls
2/3 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1.5 cup unsweetened vanilla Almond Breeze almond milk
Ice (optional)

Instructions:

1. Steep tea in boiling water. You are aiming for a very strong brew, so let steep for a good 8 – 10 minutes. It is also best to allow the tea to cool somewhat before mixing your milk tea.
2. While tea is steeping, heat water on stove in a small or medium sauce pot until boiling. Add tapioca pearls and cook until all pearls float to the top, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat, add sugar to pot and stir just until dissolved. Cover and let sit for an additional 5 minutes. Reserve about half of the tapioca pearls and sugar water for each serving of bubble tea.
3A. For frozen bubble milk tea, add tea, milk, sugar water from the pearls, and ice cubes to a blender, and blend until ice is fully incorporated. Add tapioca pearls and enjoy!
3B. For regular bubble milk tea, simply combine tea, milk, and sugar water in a pitcher or glass, then add pearls. If the mixture is not cool enough, you may add ice cubes or refrigerate* the tea first. Enjoy!

*Do not refrigerate the pearls in the tea — store them in the sugar water separately. The pearls become hard when cold, and will need to be reheated in the microwave to become soft again.

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So there you have it. You can add as much or as little additional sweetener as necessary to achieve the desired taste of your milk tea, but I tried to keep it fairly light. As mentioned, you can store any leftover pearls in the sugar water mixture (a mixture of water and honey is also a great preserver, and gives good flavor to the pearls). Just reheat the pearls for about 30 seconds in the microwave if you decide to use them later! Easy peasy.

almondbreezelogoThe above post was sponsored by Blue Diamond Almond Breeze, but all content is 100% my own.

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Posted on Jun 29, 2013 in Food, Recipes | 4 comments

Ooey Gooey Chocolate Rice Pudding

I’m gonna keep this short and sweet, people, because the more time I spend here writing this post, the more time I spending with my fingers typing instead of shoveling spoonful after spoonful of ooey, gooey, creamy, dreamy chocolate rice pudding into my mouth. Yeah, it’s pretty good.

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This steaming bowl of deliciousness is so, so easy to make, with only four real ingredients, plus a few seasonings and whatnot. Plus, it’s dairy-free! (And maybe gluten-free? I’m not actually sure about that. But definitely gluten-lessened!) With no added sugar other than what’s in Almond Breeze’s Chocolate almond milk (and perhaps a drizzle of chocolate syrup at the end… if you’re a glutton like me, hehe), it’s still very rich, hearty, and makes you feel all warm in the tummy.

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Rice pudding in general is actually quite versatile. It’s a dessert that can also be a breakfast food (just think oatmeal, minus the oats), so whatever you’re in the mood for, you’re pretty much covered. I added dried plums (mmm, fiber!) and blueberries to this dish to make it a little more appropriate to eat before 11 AM, but if you’re looking for something even less desserty, you can always just sub in non-chocolate almond milk, too!

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Chocolate Rice Pudding
Makes 2 heaping servings

Ingredients:

3 cups Almond Breeze chocolate almond milk
3/4 cup rice of choice (I used jasmine)
1/4 cup dried plums (or dried fruit of your choice)
2/3 cup fresh blueberries
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
Pinch of salt
Drizzle of chocolate syrup (optional)

Instructions:

1. In a medium saucepan, heat rice and almond milk until it reaches a soft boil.
2. Add seasonings and dried plums, reduce heat to medium and simmer for 10 – 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. As the milk gets absorbed and the rice thickens, being stirring more frequently. When the desired consistency is reached, remove from heat. Stir in blueberries and serve.
4. Drizzle on a squeeze of chocolate syrup, if desired, and enjoy!

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Nutritional info: Per giant heaping serving (1/2): 345 caloris, 4.6 g fat, 4 g protein. Per normal person’s serving (1/3): 230 calories, 3.1 g fat, 2.6 g protein.

almondbreezelogoThe above post was sponsored by Blue Diamond Almond Breeze, but all content is 100% my own.

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Posted on May 30, 2013 in Food, Recipes | 4 comments

Chocolate Crepes

Mon dieu, mes amis! I am so humbled and flattered by all your support and camaraderie in response to my big job announcement post! You guys really know how to make a girl feel loved, you know that? Well, I’m tossing the love right back your way with an extra special (and extra delicious) new recipe!

You may have seen, from my previous post on crepes, that I have some serious love for these hoity-toity cousins to the good ol’ pancake. I’ve always loved how incredibly easy they are to make something so seemingly impressive. I mean, flour, eggs, milk, sugar… and a little water to thin out the batter. It really doesn’t get much easier than that!

So when Almond Breeze challenged me to come up with another delectable brunch recipe, I knew exactly what direction I would be headed in. Only these fluffy little dreams have one serious new twist to them: CHOCOLATE!

Yes, these sweet-but-not-too-sweet chocolatey crepes will have you singing aloud (probably in French). Eat them plain (they’re delicious on their own!) or stuff ’em full of whatever your heart desires! I went with a raspberry cream filling this time around, but you could honestly do anything! Jam, fruit, more chocolate (you know you wanna)… the possibilities are endless!

Chocolate Crepes

Ingredients:

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tbsp sugar (or equivalent of sweetener of your choice)
1/2 cup Chocolate Blue Diamond Almond Breeze Almondmilk
1/2 cup water
2 eggs (or vegan substitute)
Pinch of salt

Instructions:

1. In a bowl, mix together dry ingredients (flour, cocoa powder, sugar, salt) with a whisk or fork, making sure to break up any clumps in the cocoa powder.

2. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs until yolks and whites are fully combined and are fluffy. Mix in almond milk.

3. Add wet ingredients to dry, and mix together until thoroughly combined. Add water, using additional if you need to thin out the batter even more. You are aiming for a rather thin, drippy consistency.

4. Heat a pan over medium-high heat and grease with butter or nonstick spray. In 1/2 cup increments, drop batter into hot pan and swirl around until the entire bottom area is coated. Cook ~45 seconds, flip, and cook an additional 20 – 30 seconds.

5. Roll your crepes with whatever filling you choose! This time, I whipped up a very quick filling with cream cheese, raspberries, and a dash more of almond milk to thin it out.

6. Bon appetit!

This recipe makes 5 – 6 large crepes (only 5 if you mess the first one up, like I did, haha). And each crepe has only 115 calories and 2.5 grams of fat. Enjoy!

almondbreezelogoThe above post was sponsored by Blue Diamond Almond Breeze, but all content is 100% my own.

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Posted on Apr 29, 2013 in Giveaway, Recipes | 5 comments

Melon Refresher Smoothie

I know you guys are strewn all throughout the country… and the continent… and the world! So I’m not sure exactly what the weather situation has been like in your individual areas over the past few weeks, but let me tell you: In the DC area, weather has been crazy this spring. We have gone from winter to summer to winter to spring  (oh, please, PLEASE let it finally be spring!), all within the timespan of a few days! A couple weeks back, I swear, it was 38 degrees one day and 90 the next. That hot (hot, hot, hot!) summer weather stuck around for a few days, and boy, did I feel it.

I’m not sure if I’ve ever explained that summer is actually my least favorite season. I know, blasphemous, right? Don’t get me wrong, I love a lot the things that summer brings: pool parties, beach trips, ice cream trucks, and tons of general feel-goodery. But summer also brings with it lots of things that I don’t love: Mosquitos, humidity, and—oh yeah—the heat.

I am not a slight woman. This much has been, and will always be, true. Whether I’m 250 pounds or 150 pounds, I will always have big ol’ bones and this 5’9” frame and I will always, always be the sweaty beast that I become when it’s 90+ degrees outside. I know that paints an extremely attractive picture of me, but seriously. Is there anyone in the world who gets as sweaty as me when the weather is hot? I doubt it.

Given my proclivity for transforming into the aforementioned Sweaty Mess Formerly Known as Gretchen, I’m constantly on the lookout for ways to cool me down, inside and out. The out usually means I exist solely in sundresses and flipflops from May – September, while the inside means I’m eating lots and lots of cooooool foods. So when the weather unexpectedly spiked, what do you think I did? Yep, I immediately sought out a light and refreshing new smoothie recipe to cool my sweaty soul.

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Plus, I won’t lie, I really, really wanted a reason to use my new Vitamix. Hehehe.

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Enter: the cantaloupe smoothie.

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I know, sounds kinda weird, right? Well, let me assure you, if you are a melon lover of any kind, you will lo-o-ove this smoothie. It’s sweet but oh-so-light, cooling and very refreshing. I sucked down half my glass without even realizing it, that’s how wonderful it is. This can be made with any kind of melon, too. I happened to have a perfectly ripe cantaloupe on hand, but it would be awesome with honeydew, or even watermelon! Especially watermelon, actually. Mmm, watermelon… And with only five—count ‘em, FIVE!—ingredients on the list, you can be sure this is going to be a staple in my summer eats rotation.

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Melon Refresher Smoothie

Half a cantaloupe, seeded and cubed (~3 cups)
1 cup Blue Diamond Almond Breeze Almondmilk Original (unsweetened or not, your preference)
2 tbsp sugar
1 cup ice
Drizzle of honey (add more or less to taste)

Regular blender instructions: Put ingredients in blender in order listed, blend on high for 30 seconds, or until smooth.

Vitamix instructions: Put ingredients in blender in order listed. Start on Variable speed 1 and quickly increase to 10, then high. Blend for 15 seconds.

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This recipe makes about three 12-ounce servings… or, if you’re me, two 18-ounce servings. Heh. You can store extras in the fridge for a couple days (you may need to shake or re-blend for a few seconds). Enjoy, and keep cool out there!

almondbreezelogoThe above post was sponsored by Blue Diamond Almond Breeze, but all content is 100% my own.

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