Would You Care for a Spot of Tea?

My mom sent me home with a tea pot and matching cups and saucers over the weekend, so on Sunday, to add to my already exciting Downton Abbey viewing experience, I decided to enjoy some tea with my PBS.

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I thought I was all cool with my fancy tea cup and saucer.

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…but my cats quickly corrected me with their disapproving stares.

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U’z an idiot, hooman.

I know girls, I know.

In other news, my half marathon training starts in two weeks and I couldn’t be more excited. I decided to start four weeks earlier than the plan suggested to get myself back into a routine. Here’s what the first few weeks are going to look like.

*Sunday
(Rest)
Monday
(Easy)
Tuesday
(Cross Train)
Wednesday
(Easy)
Thursday
(Cross Train)
Friday
(Rest)
Saturday
(Long)
Rest 30 minutes
(3 miles)
30-40 minutes 30 minutes
(3 miles)
30-40 minutes Rest 3.5 miles

After I finish week four, I’ll launch into the actual training plan. Here’s a sample.

*Sunday
(Rest)
Monday
(Easy)
Tuesday
(Cross Train)
Wednesday
(Easy)
Thursday
(Cross Train)
Friday
(Rest)
Saturday
(Long)
Rest 35 minutes
3 miles)
30-40 minutes 35 minutes
3 miles)
30-40 minutes Rest 4 miles
Rest 45 minutes
(4 miles)
30-40 minutes 45 minutes
(4 miles)
30-40 minutes Rest 5 miles
Rest 45 minutes
(4 miles)
30-40 minutes 45 minutes
(45 miles)
30-40 minutes Rest 6 miles

You can do the math on how it will work out, but I actually only run as far as 10 miles before the race. This made me nervous at first, but I was told that once you get that far, a quick 5k is to finish it out is nothing. That makes total sense! Anyway, I’ll be posting the plan on my Fitness page sometime this week.

Honest Tea

A few weeks (maybe a month?) ago I received a sample of a few various Honest Tea brand drinks to try. I’m slowly becoming a cold tea drinker, but must admit it’s tough to drink with them food. Something about the flavors just don’t jive. Anyway, I decided to give the Honest Zero Passion Fruit Green Tea a try.

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Ok, so for zero calories, my hopes for “full flavor” were realistically low. The “tea” flavor was pretty strong in this brew, but it lacked the sweetness I would have liked. It’s definitely worth trying, but I recommend adding some of your own stevia to the mix. Hey, it has more flavor than water! I hope to try some of the other flavors soon.

Tea drinking aside, I was very busy a few evenings ago baking goodies for my office Christmas party. (I’m not being politically incorrect; it was officially called a Christmas party.) I tried out the Double Chocolate and Mint recipe my mom made at our cookie party a few weeks ago, whipped up some sugar cookies and decided to try this very yummy Rugelach recipe.

Dough

2 1/4 c (10 oz / 287 g) all-purpose flour
1 tbsp (1/2 oz) granulated sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 c (8 oz / 227 g) unsalted butter, frozen and grated
8 oz (227 g) cream cheese
2 tbsp sour cream

Filling

1 cup of chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS

1. dough:
a) whisk together flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl.
b) toss flour with butter bits and then with a pastry blender or 2 forks or 2 knives, blend your brick of cream cheese into the flour; add sour cream. gently blend until you get dough bits with substantial butter chunks.
c) dump dough onto your clean, floured counter top and with a bench scraper, corral and gently pat your dough chunks into a squarish shape, 1-inch thick.
d) roll into a rectangular shape about 1/2-inch thick. with your bench scraper, gently fold in half and give it a quarter turn (90º). dough will be very crumbly and possibly stick onto the roller. resist the urge to add too much flour or water.
e) if the butter starts to melt, wrap and place in fridge for about 30 minutes to chill. letting it rest in between rolling will also allow the gluten to relax, leading to tender flakes of pastry.
f) roll back into a rectangular shape, 1/2-inch thick. fold in half and turn. repeat 3 times. by the last roll, your dough should be more cohesive and uniformly smooth in texture. if you look at the dough from the side, you will see the layers that you’ve created like here.
g) divide dough into 4 even pieces and press each piece into thick disks. roll into an 8 or 9-inch disk. freeze for 30 minutes or up to 1 month if stored in zipper-lock freezer bag.
FineCooking.com has excellent pictorial directions for rolling out flaky pastry here.
2. filling:
1. for dry fillings: combine all the filling ingredients.
2. for fillings with preserves: combine sugar and spices and set aside. when filling, spread with preserves, first, then sprinkle on sugar spice mix, then sprinkle on raisins, then the walnuts.
3. rolling with filling into crescent shape:
a) work with one dough disk at a time, and keep the others refrigerated. place a disk on the work surface.
b) spread 1/4 c of the filling over the dough, leaving 2 inch in middle and 1/2 in around the outside edge of the circle uncovered; pat fillings down into dough gently with fingertips.
c) use a sharp knife or a pizza wheel to cut the circle into 8 equal wedges.
d) starting at the wide (outside) edge of the wedge, roll it toward its narrow edge, as you would a crescent roll. at the wide edge, you can also cut a snip to give it a split tail which really does facilitate the rolling process, similar to making croissant.
e) place the rolled wedges, tip down, on the prepared baking sheets 2 inches apart. curve each cookie into a crescent shape. repeat this process with the remaining dough. freeze them for 15 minutes (if well-wrapped, can be frozen in a zipper-lock bag up to 6 weeks).
4. meanwhile, adjust oven racks to upper and lower middle positions. preheat the oven to 350ºF. lightly grease (or line with parchment) two baking sheets. parchment recommended as the cookie filling will inevitably ooze.
5. remove from freezer and brush each crescent with some of the beaten egg mixture and sprinkle with sugar.
6. bake, turning baking pans from front to back and top to bottom halfway through baking time, until pale gold and slightly puffy, 21 to 23 minutes. carefully transfer hot, fragile cookies to cooling rack using thin-bladed spatula. (can be stored in an airtight container up to 4 days.)

My dough was far from flaky and turned out to be more of a biscuit texture, but they were still very good. I would almost recommend using a store bought crescent roll dough to make this recipe a LOT easier. Though I’m not Jewish, I’ve always had a deep respect for this particular religious belief and all of it’s deep-rooted traditions.  Now I have an even deeper respect for the women spend the time making this recipe during the holidays. Oi vey!

Anyway, try out this recipe if you’re in the mood for something a little different this holiday season.