Sunday, July 7, 2013

Enjoying Bigelow Teas - #AmericasTea for Dinner Versatility


This 4th of July really snuck up on me. The new baby has taken most of my spare time, so I didn't put as much thought into planning a holiday meal for my family. Despite it being the busiest time of year on the farm, I still wanted to spend the day with family and good food. We love to fire up the BBQ for holidays like this, and this year I chose to embrace the versatility of Bigelow Tea and try using our favorite teas to flavor my dishes. It is #AmericasTea for a reason and since it was America's big day, it seemed fitting. We already enjoy iced tea, but I wanted to see if I could also marinate, bake and use tea in a dessert.

I have great memories from my childhood linked to a cup full of tea. My first babysitter introduced me to a simple mug, a little milk and honey. It soon became my drink of choice, even in elementary school. After living abroad in Japan tea became the new love of my life. We drank it everywhere and hot, cold, sweet or bitter, but the selection is amazing back here in the US. So many tea flavors to choose from!

My local Walmart carries a wide selection of Bigelow Teas. You can see our family shopping trip to Walmart and what I had to choose from. Usually I purchase mint tea or simple fruit teas to enjoy while I read at night. It is my favorite why to unwind after a long day. For this meal I was determined to think outside the mug. With it's low price, I grabbed several flavors to try and experiment with. We left the store with Earl Grey, Constant Comment, Orange & Spice, Perfectly Peach as well as an Herb Tea Assortment plus all the veggies and other baking items I needed for my meal.

#AmericasTea

Burgers, dogs or steak? We have done it all before. This year I went for a more unconventional meat, a local lamb, yum! The Bigelow site had an intriguing recipe for marinating lamb kebabs. It called for Constant Comment tea, a spicy tea blend with hints of orange. This was the first time I tried this tea and the aroma from steeping it made my whole house smell amazing.

Bigelow Tea Recipe

It was as simple as steeping the tea, adding in the other ingredients, honey, cumin and cloves, and letting the meat marinate before adding to a pre-soaked skewer. We grilled half of them on the BBQ, and cooked the other half in the smoker. Both were delicious, but the smoker added even more flavor to the meat.

Grilling with Tea

I loved this meal because preparation was simple and cleanup was just as easy.

I also wanted dessert to be special. The idea of Earl Grey flavor packed into a little shortbread cookie sounded like the perfect way to savor my favorite hot drink in cookie form. I added in a little more tea than other recipes to boost the flavor along with vanilla and made sure the sugar was pulsed up fine.

Baking with Bigelow Tea

Earl Grey Tea Cookies

You Will Need:
  • 3 Tbsp. Earl Grey tea (about 8 bags of opened tea)
  • 3/4 c. granulated sugar
  • 1/2 c. confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 c. AP Flour
  • 2 sticks butter, unsalted at room temperature
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a food processor, pulse up the tea and granulated sugar. Make sure the larger leaves of tea are broken up. Then add the confectioners sugar, salt and flour and pulse till well incorporated.

Then add the butter and vanilla. Mix until the dough comes together and is evenly moistened throughout. It should just hold together but not be too sticky. You can add a tsp. of water if necessary.

Bigelow Earl Grey Tea

Turn the dough onto a piece of waxed paper and roll out to 1/4" thickness. Use a cookie cutter to cut out stars or your favorite shapes. Place onto a lined baking sheet and chill for 10 minutes.

4th of July cookies

Bake for 10 - 15 minutes depending on the size of your cookie. I used two different sizes of star cookie cutters and adjusted the time for each tray. Bake until they begin to turn golden around the edges.

Cool on the tray for 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Bigelow Tea Cookies

Being Summer, I had a crunchy treat for dessert, but I also wanted something to help us cool off. We enjoy making snow cones because they are simple, inexpensive and delicious.

Snow Cone Syrup Recipe

I also used Bigelow Tea to make my syrup for snow cones. If you haven't made your own snow cone syrup, you have to try it. It tastes so much better than store-bought. I used Perfect Peach flavored tea and jazzed it up with pureeing up one ripe peach for the little fruit chunks. It was a huge hit with my family!

The tea added a nice complexity to the seasonal fruit. Dare I say it was an improvement on a perfectly good peach?

Snow Cones

Perfect Peach Snow Cone Syrup

You Will Need:
  • 3 Bigelow Perfect Peach tea bags
  • 1 c. water
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1 ripe peach
Bring 1 cup of water to a boil and then turn off the heat and steep the tea bags for 5 minutes. 

Discard the tea bags and add in the sugar. Bring back up to a boil  and stir the mixture till all the sugar has dissolved. Let the syrup reduce slightly over a low simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.

Add a sliced ripe peach and the syrup to a blender and pulse till you achieve desired results. I left some small chunks of peach in my mixture. Let this completely cool then put in a jar and store in the refrigerator till you want to use it.

I make crushed ice in my Blendtec and then gently spoon the syrup over the top to serve. Enjoy!

Peach Snow Cone Recipe

A whole meal with tea? Yes. Tea is still my favorite warm beverage, but the flavors are so much more versatile than I first imagined. Bigelow Tea comes in such a wide variety of flavors that it works perfectly with everything from lamb kebabs to family-friendly desserts. All the bags are individually sealed to hold in all the freshness and aroma - the perfect compliment to fresh food at my Summer BBQ.

Be sure to follow Bigelow Tea on Facebook, Twitter as well as check out their Bigelow Tea Pinterest Board.

I want to know, what would you make with Bigelow Tea?

For more great Summer ideas, check out the Summer E-Guide Below:

Andrea
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