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July Flame Sweet Tea

I caught an episode on Food Network where two actress friends cooked lunch and made sweet tea. Between my brother’s delicious iced coffee and my determination that my parents made a mistake and I should have been born in the South, I was inspired to create my own icy, sweet beverage. Also, my Father-in-law gets a kick out of how I drawl, “Sweet tea,” since I first ever heard, “Sweet tea,” at restaurants in Memphis. I just say it the way my friends and the waitresses said it.

The first delicious batch was traditional with thinly sliced lemon added to the pitcher. For the next batch, I decided to try peach tea, and I noticed the variety name July Flame on my box of Trader Joe’s peaches. It is dang hot in Houston these July days, so this is my refreshing July Flame Sweet Tea:

  1. Heat kettle of fresh water to a boil.
  2. While water is heating, unwrap 2 family-size tea bags and place them in a heat-safe, 4-cup measuring cup. Our house brand is Lipton decaffeinated so we can enjoy iced tea all day and evening.
  3. Pour boiling water over tea bags to the 4-cup measure mark. Steep tea for 8 minutes.
  4. While tea is steeping, thinly slice 1/2 lemon and 1/2 peach.
  5. When timer goes off, use a large spoon to remove tea bags and squeeze excess tea into measuring cup by pressing another spoon against them.
  6. Stir and melt 1/4 cup honey into hot tea. It’s best to use local honey. Let tea cool for several minutes.
  7. Fill pitcher with ice cubes, about 3/4 full. Pour cooled tea over ice. Add sliced fruit, and use large spoon to push fruit through ice into pitcher.
  8. To serve, fill a glass with ice cubes and pour tea over ice. Fish out a piece of fruit for a garnish, if you’d like. If there is any tea left after serving your friends, store pitcher in ‘fridge. It’s okay if the ice melts, but drink the tea in the next day or two.

Enjoy, y’all!



New Year’s Black-Eyed Peas

Happy New Year’s Eve! Last night I soaked the beans, and today I made a big pot of black-eyed peas to ring in the New Year. While I started with my Big Pot o’ Beans recipe (November 2013 archives), this variation is quite a departure from my original soupy beans. This is my new recipe:

1 lb dried black-eyed peas, soaked and strained;
4-6 slices bacon, cut into 1/2″ pieces;
1/2 small/medium yellow onion, diced;
2 cloves garlic, smashed and minced;
2 Tbs tarragon vinegar (or red wine vinegar);
1 15 oz can tomato sauce (I prefer Trader Joe’s organic);
2 cans water;
1 tsp coarse salt;
1 tsp paprika;
1 tsp Tony Cachere’s creole seasoning;
1/2 tsp ground cumin;
1/2 tsp ground ancho chili pepper;
1/2 tsp dried oregano;
1 bay leaf;
1 Tbs Louisiana Hot Sauce.

When you begin cooking, drain off soaking liquid from beans. Then start by frying chopped bacon in large soup (“bean”) pot. When bacon is crisp, drain off most of the rendered fat. Add a little olive oil to the bean pot; Sauté onion; Season with 1/2 tsp salt; Add garlic. Increase heat; Add 2 Tbs vinegar; Scrape brown bits off bottom of pot. Add strained black-eyed peas; Season with another 1/2 tsp salt; Stir! Add tomato sauce; Add 2 cans water; Stir! Add the rest of the spices and Louisiana hot sauce; Stir! Heat to boil; reduce to simmer. Simmer, simmer, simmer. Taste and adjust seasonings. Happy New Year! Wishing you joy, health and prosperity!

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