Tea IQ: Favourite Teas

Tea IQ is a series that explores how to be a smarter tea drinker. Today, Lizzie from Bedford Cottage Tea House (who is a tea and baking aficionado and also studied abroad in Oxford with me) is back to share some tea wisdom.

Hello again, think fruitful readers! I’m back to tell you all about some of my favourite teas. I chose six to feature, and for each one I’ll tell you a little bit about the tea and how I most like to enjoy them. I went with the basics plus a few curveballs, so old hats and greenhorns alike will find something to interest them. I’ve stayed away from mentioning any brands or suppliers, but please feel free to reach out to me directly for recommendations (contact info at the end of the post)!

And as always, personal taste is everything, as long as it’s a taste for tea!

English Breakfast

I love a good English Breakfast because sometimes you just can’t beat a classic. This tea is lush, faintly sweet, and has a good dose of astringency. I usually like to add a bit of sugar and milk to my English Breakfast to help round out that tannic bitterness. It creates a cup that is full-bodied and comforting. Meant as a stalwart breakfast beverage, but fantastic for an afternoon pick-me-up, especially when accompanied by a biscuit (cookie) or two.

Earl Grey

Earl Grey is one of the most popular teas on the planet and for good reason. Made with a blend of black teas and bergamot oil, this tea is bold, bright, and bracing. However, unlike a lot of citrus flavours, bergamot is slightly sweeter and less acidic, resulting in a balanced tea perfect for any time of day. And while some citrus additions like pieces of orange or lemon peel can curdle milk when added, Earl Grey resists and remains homogenous and smooth. I take mine with milk only, no sugar. For an occasional treat I will add a small amount of dried lavender to the brew. Like English Breakfast, Earl Grey is a great tea for beginners or people looking to supplement other beverages.

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The Sweetest Season 2017 & Mint Chocolate-Dipped Shortbreads

mint chocolate-dipped shortbreads

If you like holiday sweets and treats and supporting a good cause, then today’s post is for you!

It’s always fun to do blogger sweepstakes and virtual recipe exchanges, and this one is no different. For The Sweetest Season 2017, dozens of bloggers are sharing brand new, holiday-inspired cookie recipes and encouraging donations to the Cookies for Kids’ charity.


If you’ve been a think fruitful reader for a bit, then you know that I love a good shortbread. They’re buttery, not too sweet and can be jazzed up easily with a special extract or topping.

And today’s recipe takes that to whole new, holiday festive level.

mint chocolate-dipped shortbreads

Meet the Mint Chocolate-Dipped Shortbread cookie. It’s your cup of coffee or tea’s best friend. It’s sure to wow holiday guests. It’s the perfect thing for your holiday cookie exchange. And it’s quick to make with low ingredients.

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3 Thanksgiving Tips & Cornbread Stuffing

It’s the big week…Thanksgiving!

Are you stressed? Are you excited? Are you gathering last-minute recipes?

No matter what you’re feeling, you’ve come to the right place!

I hosted Thanksgiving for the first time last year, and I feel like I came away some helpful tips. Trust me, there IS a way for you to survive Thanksgiving and really enjoy it. I believe! Will you believe with me?

My 3 Thanksgiving tips:

1. Divide & Conquer

I was very lucky that my first year to host Thanksgiving brought with it several kitchen helpers (my in-laws and husband). It made me realize that yes, this meal is a little crazy when it’s up to one person to make it happen. So, divide and conquer. Take 1 or 2 dishes yourself and ask family to help make the others (or visitors to sign up to bring things). Unless you’re really into doing Thanksgiving on your own, share your cooking responsibilities. It will help lighten your load and still get everything on the table.

2. Keep it Simple

I was listening to the recent Thanksgiving episode of The Sporkful, and I totally agree with Dan that the great thing about Thanksgiving is the traditions. The reason most of us love the T-day meal is because it’s filled with same dishes we loved when we were young. Most of us only eat those dishes once a year, so I suggest sticking with the classic. This will also help you stay away from trying too many new things and stressing out about the unknowns. And don’t feel like you need to do 10 different dishes. Make your family’s favorite 5 and do those well.

3. Forget Perfect

While you’re keeping it simple, throw perfection out of the window. A perfect Thanksgiving is not a real Thanksgiving. It’s just like a community, imperfect but beautiful. Focus on the fact that you’re sharing the table with special people, and don’t freak out if the mashed potatoes aren’t piping hot. Everyone will love it. I promise!

Another great Thanksgiving tip: Make stuffing and a lot of it!

cornbread stuffing

Stuffing/dressing is my favorite dish, and my family has a fabulous Cornbread Stuffing recipe. It’s filled with herbs and seasonings, and it’s just moist enough and delicious topped with gravy, sharing a plate with every other side dish you love. (For a great homemade cornbread recipe, I like this one.)

cornbread stuffing

I also cooked this stuffing in the slow cooker for my work’s Thanksgiving meal this year, and it worked well. Whether you’re cooking in the oven or the slow cooker, it is a classic (for a reason).

*Click or tap on recipe card to enlarge, screenshot or save.

Introducing Groceries with Grace

If you follow the blog on Facebook, then you might have noticed a new weekly video of me unpacking my grocery bags and discussing my meal plan. I can see that some of you really enjoy this view into my food life, so I hope to keep doing these videos.

What did I get at the grocery this week?

  • Celery, onion, chicken stock, cornmeal and buttermilk for cornbread stuffing.
  • Beef stock, chuck roast, baguette, provolone and arugula for French dip sandwiches.
  • Chips and salsa, as usual
  • Black beans and avocados for rice bowls with chips and guac
  • And more!

See Groceries with Grace 1, 2 and 3 on YouTube. You can even subscribe to my channel to see the videos as soon as I publish them!

Ingredient of the Month: Plain Yogurt

plain yogurt

This may be a little unexpected.

Today’s ingredient is something that you’ve probably overlooked. You might pass it in the grocery store and think, who would want to eat that? Or you might have it in your fridge and never have used it for anything other than breakfast.

Well, I’m here today to lift this simple ingredient up a bit and hopefully open your mind to all of its creamy possibilities.

So, let’s talk plain yogurt.

plain yogurt

Tell me more:

Plain yogurt is (or should be) thick and creamy yogurt without any flavors or much sugar. Siggi’s is my favorite, but I’m also a fan of Stonyfield’s whole milk plain yogurt. Like any other yogurt, it’s made from milk and contains lots of good probiotics!

I personally prefer plain yogurt to Greek yogurt, so I’ll leave it up to you to pick your favorite since they’re nearly interchangeable for our purposes here.

Where can I buy plain yogurt:

You can find plain yogurt in your grocery store, in the dairy/yogurt section or the organic dairy section. Get a yogurt that has high protein, low sugar and I like more on the whole milk side. Some people also make their own yogurt, which I think is great!

How do I store plain yogurt:

Store your yogurt in its container in the refrigerator. Most yogurts last for a few weeks.

How do I cook with plain yogurt:

Well, where do we start. Plain yogurt is such a versatile ingredient because you can control the flavors you add in, as well as if you’re going the sweet or savory route.

You probably know it’s a good sour cream substitute and that it makes a tasty smoothie. You might not know that it makes the perfect topping for Indian dishes mixed with cilantro, salt, pepper and a little lemon juice.

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Vegan Chili (That is My New Favorite)

Ok, you might be thinking after last week’s post and this post that I’m going vegan.

Well…I’m not. I think that’s great if you want to be vegan, but I’m sticking with my yogurt and cheese.

But, I do like the idea of eating a more plant-based diet.

Believe it or not, this recipe rivals my favorite chili recipe. Of course, it’s different. The meat is replaced with butternut squash and lentils. But, it’s SO good.

The lentils give it the perfect texture, and the butternut squash is a little sweet and plays well off of the savory, smokey spices.

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Slow Cooker Recipes to Make This Season

slow cooker recipes

My coworker was recently telling me that she is about to get her first slow cooker. I loved seeing her excitement, and then she asked what type of slow cooker recipes were on my blog. So, I created this post is my answer to that age-old question: What should I make in my slow cooker?

It really is amazing how a slow cooker can transform your cooking. You throw a range of ingredients in it, plug it in and then come home 6-9 hours later and the house smells amazing and you have a home-cooked meal. I’m all for quick cooking recipes, but there is nothing like letting flavors develop over hours.

Without further ado, here are my best slow cooker recipes:

Deconstructed Lazy Lasagna

I have made this more times than I can recall since discovering it a few years ago. You just throw all of the lasagna or baked pasta ingredients (marinara, pasta noodles, cottage cheese, frozen spinach, mozzarella and Parmesan), let it cook together for a few hours and dinner is served! This is great leftover, too.

Chicken Tikka Masala

It’s no surprise that this dish is one of your, my wonderful readers’, favorites. It just takes a little bit of sauteing before you throw it in the slow cooker, then a little cream at the end, and you have a homemade Indian meal.

Chicken Wild Rice Soup

This is a seriously creamy and comforting soup for your slow cooker. It gives you an excuse to buy some wild rice, and it would be an amazing weeknight meal to come home to!

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Tasty Vegan Banana Bread

I think we can all agree that banana bread is a staple, especially during the cooler months.

It takes old bananas and makes them amazing.

I’ve always loved homemade banana bread, but I’ve had trouble finding a recipe that is delicious, a good consistency and not too unhealthy. You know that I’m into my baked goods, and I always love when I can find healthy baking recipes like this one.

This Vegan Banana Bread calls for coconut oil instead of butter and maple syrup and honey instead of sugar. You can also use water instead of milk, or perhaps the non-dairy milk of your choice. And it still tastes really great and has the crumb texture that you exepct.

And, if you’re not vegan, then you can throw in some chocolate chips or nuts either way.

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Falafel-Style Chickpea Fritters

chickpea fritters

I’ve got another vegetarian wonder of a meal for you today.

Even if you’re not vegetarian, you’ve got to give some love to chickpeas. They are full of protein, they go great with spices, and they can be eaten whole, smashed or pureed.

If you’re a fan of Mediterranean food and trying several different things, then you will love these Chickpea Fritters.

chickpea fritters

We served ours with the yogurt sauce included in the recipe, a cucumber salad, tzatziki, hummus and pita bread. Go ahead and make it a feast! That’s one thing that I love about Greek and Mediterranean food is that it encourages family-style eating and lots of sampling and trying.

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