1. blueberry picking after work 2. frozen for the winter 3. our first good year of corn! 4. watching Newport Folk Festival on a rainy Saturday afternoon – if you haven’t heard Shovels & Rope, you now have homework 5. glimpse of a weeknight 6. Maggie as a puppy

Spicy Iced Chai Tea

I was a caffeine newbie until I hit college. That’s when it all started.

Sure, I had sodas every now and then growing up, but I wasn’t really a tea or coffee drinker until I was in the middle of finals, cram sessions and late nights at the library. Suddenly, chai lattes and white chocolate mochas became a regular in my daily routine.

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I still remember the first time I ever had a chai latte. I didn’t even know what it was when I ordered it. I had no idea if it was tea or coffee! But as soon as I had the first sip, I was hooked. From that spring break trip in California all the way back to school in Arkansas and home in Virginia, chai tea became one of my favorites, no matter where I was.

On most days, I’m a coffee purist – just a little bit of milk in my coffee, and I’m set. But when I want chai tea, I want it one of two ways. Either steaming hot with lots of milk or iced, kicked up with extra spices, and a couple glugs of milk to make it just a bit creamier.

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I’ve done hot chai tea at home lots of times, so I’m not sure why it took me so long to make my own iced chai. And this certainly won’t be the last time. You can buy chai tea that’s ready to brew or you can make your own spiced tea mix, making it as spicy (or non-spicy) as you like!

I like a little extra kick in mine, so I added a bit more cayenne. This is also delicious if you steep some fresh orange peel in with the tea bags, too.

Basically – brew some black tea. Add your favorite spices. Pour into a large glass with ice and add some ice cold low-fat or fat-free milk or lactose-free milk for a spicy way to start (or end!) your day.

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Spicy Iced Chai Tea

Why buy chai tea when you can make your own mix? Add as much (or as little) spice as you like and make it exactly how you like it.


  • 4 black tea bags (I like Oolong)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne or black pepper
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup water
  • low-fat or fat-free milk or lactose-free milk, for serving


  1. Bring 4 cups of water to a boil, then pour over the 4 tea bags and let the tea steep for 5 minutes.
  2. Stir the cinnamon, ginger, vanilla, cayenne (or black pepper) and salt into the tea.
  3. Pour this mixture into a large container/pitcher and fill with ice. Add water to the tea and refrigerate until chilled.
  4. To serve, pour tea into a glass with ice, then add milk. Stir and enjoy!

Whether you’re talking about a cold glass of milk, creamy yogurt or flavorful cheese, dairy foods taste great and offer a powerful nutritional punch. But those who are lactose intolerant or showing lactose ​intolerance symptoms don’t have to miss out on the great taste and health benefits of low-fat and fat-free dairy foods.

Different people can handle different amounts of lactose, and there’s a solution to meet most needs in the dairy case – from lactose-free milk to dairy foods that are typically easier to digest. If you’re lactose intolerant, lactose-free milk is a great choice in this spicy iced chai tea –creamy, cold, and delicious, just like it should be.

Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by NDC – all recipes and opinions are my own, as always.

Almond Crusted Chicken Tenders

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I don’t know about you, but I’ve always loved this time of year.  This end of summer / start of fall / back to school season is one of my favorites, and it always has been.

Maybe because I was (and still am) a little bit of a nerd. Maybe because fall is my favorite season and I’m ready for sweaters and boots and football.

I think what I love most about this time of year is that, more than anything, it always feels like a fresh start. I know most people think of New Years as the time to “start over” and make resolutions, but September has always felt more like a reset button than any other time of year.

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It’s a time to reinvent yourself for the coming year, to meet new people, to make new habits.

Maybe your new habits will be studying more – or better – in school this year. Maybe it’ll be to step up at work and get a promotion. Maybe it’s to take better care of yourself. Maybe, like me, it’s a little bit of all of this (except the studying part….I am glad that’s over!).

My goal every year is to cook more at home and to find ways to make our favorite dishes just a little bit healthier, so I couldn’t be more excited about this recipe and this campaign!

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Partnership for a Healthier America, All-Clad and a great group of bloggers have gotten together to spread childhood obesity awareness with some great (and healthier!) back to school recipes and fantastic giveaways.

Did you know?

  • Approximately 12.5 million U.S. youth are obese and about 11 million more are overweight
  • 1 in 3 children and adolescents in this country are overweight or obese
  • More than 25% 17-24 year olds in the United States are now too heavy to serve in the military
  • Over the past 30 years, childhood obesity in the U.S. has doubled among ages 2-5 and more than tripled among ages 6-11 and 12-19.
  • Children with low neighborhood amenities or those lacking neighborhood access to side-walks or walking paths, parks or playgrounds, or recreation or community centers had 20-45% higher odds of becoming obese or overweight compared to children who had access to these amenities

I don’t know about you, but those stats aren’t very encouraging. What happened in the last 30 years that has changed the lives of the children in this country so much?

almond chicken tenders

I don’t think there’s one answer to the problem, but I do know that being more active and eating at home – and healthier dishes – is a great way to start solving the issue. Eating healthy and offering more balanced and tasty options definitely starts with the family.

For more healthy back to school recipes, make sure to check out all of these great options:

And to help spread the word (and give more families the chance to cook more at home and make healthier dishes), we’ve got some great giveaways!

Each of us are giving away this 11″ skillet, and one grand prize winner will get this incredible 7 piece All Clad set to spruce up your kitchen!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Almond Crusted Chicken Tenders

An update on your usual chicken tenders, this is a healthier option that uses finely ground almonds as the base of the breading. A little sweet from the almonds, a little kick from the spices, and even more flavor than any frozen chicken tender you can buy.


  • about 1 pound of boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup almond meal
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Beat the eggs on a plate or in a shallow bowl.
  3. In a separate, shallow bowl or plate, mix the almond meal with the salt, garlic powder, onion powder, and pepper.
  4. Slice the chicken breast pieces into 1-2" wide strips, cutting them evenly as possible. You'll want a total of 12-16 pieces so each person gets 3-4 tenders.
  5. Place a medium skillet on the stove top and heat 1 Tbsp of oil in the pan.
  6. Dip each chicken tender into the egg, coating each side and then coat evenly with the almond meal mixture.
  7. Cook in the skillet 4-5 minutes on each side, letting the almond meal brown. Once the first batch of chicken is done, add the other tablespoon of oil to the pan and cook the remaining chicken tenders.
  8. When the tenders are evenly browned, remove from the pan and place on a cookie sheet.
  9. Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes until the tenders are cooked through.

This giveaway has been sponsored by Partnership for A Healthier America and All-Clad. I did not receive any compensation for this post.

S’mores Dip…over at Susan’s today

Hi friends!


If you’re new here, I’m so happy to have you! I found out the Dr. Oz show ran again yesterday, so there’s been lots of new activity around here. It’s always fun to have new people checking things out and asking questions.

Today, I’ve got a fun (and super easy) S’mores Dip over on Doughmesstic to help celebrate Susan’s new S’mores Cookbook – check it out!



Strawberry Fig Jam

We have become serious jam hoarders in the past couple of years.

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I would say it’s becoming a problem, but really, when we’re stocked on homemade jam and don’t really want to share with anyone – is that actually a problem? I don’t think so.

And we do share. With family. But that’s it. And honestly, it’s hard to see those jars disappearing around the holidays when we’re giving them away as gifts. But we know that our family loves jam as much as we do, so it’s worth it to share.

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I just love walking downstairs and seeing our basement shelves filled with the jeweled toned jars or opening the fridge and being able to pick what jam I want on my biscuits or toast. Knowing you made something yourself automatically makes it taste better, too, right? You put in the time and the effort and the end result is always seems sweeter.


I’m no expert when it comes to canning – I just started a few years ago – but jam is definitely one of my favorite things to make. It’s one of the easiest things to can, so it’s the best way to get your feet wet.

If you can chop fruit, let it simmer, ladle it into jars, and then let the jars cook for 12-15 minutes, you’ve got it! You’re closer to homemade jam than you think.

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Strawberry Fig Jam

A spin on classic strawberry jam, this mix has a little extra oomph from the light flavor of the figs. If you don't have fresh figs and can get frozen, they work great! Let them thaw before pureeing them, then cook the same.


  • 3 cups figs, pureed
  • 3 cups strawberries, hulled and halved
  • 1.5 cups agave syrup
  • 3 Tbsp low sugar pectin


  1. Cut the stems off the figs (either fresh or thawed if frozen) and add them to your blender. Puree the figs on low speed until it's mostly smooth and broken down. If there are still a few larger pieces of fig, that's fine.
  2. Place the strawberries, figs, agave, and pectin in a large pot and bring to a boil.
  3. Cook on medium, stirring, keeping the heat up enough so the fruit mixture stays at a low, rolling boil.
  4. While the fruit mixture is heating, place jar lids in a small pan of water and simmer. Get your jars and lids ready for canning and have a large pot of water heating on the stove top.
  5. Once the berries have mostly broken down and the mixture is thickened slightly, remove from the heat.
  6. Fill each jar and leave 1/2 inch headspace, place a lid on the jar and secure the ring.
  7. Process in a water-bath canner for 12 minutes.
  8. Remove from canner and let the jars sit, unmoved, for a few hours until they have cooled and the lids have popped.

Cherry Cheesecake Sour Cream Waffles

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There is one way, and one way only, to eat waffles. I’m convinced of this.

Really, the only thing you need besides butter and maple syrup is a big glass of ice cold milk. Am I the only one who has to have that with a crispy, still-warm-from-the-iron waffle?

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Maybe it’s because that’s how I always had them when I was growing up. Maybe it’s the mix of the hot waffle with the cold milk. I don’t know why it is – I just know that’s how it has to be.

And even though my normal waffle topping of choice is usually pretty simple (butter, maple syrup, maybe some homemade jam), these cherry cheesecake waffles sure were a fun way to change it up a bit. The cherry topping adds some fruit and sweetness to the perfectly crisp sour cream waffle, and the cheesecake mix gives just enough tang to keep it from being too sweet.

But yeah, I know what you’re thinking.

Dessert? Sure! Breakfast? Of course. Lunch? Even better. These waffles can stand in for any meal you want.

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Cherry Cheesecake Sour Cream Waffles

Dessert or breakfast - it's your choice! These waffles make a great base for any of your favorite toppings, whether you like sweet or savory. Make a big batch and throw any extras in the freezer for later.


Sour Cream Waffles

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons Dixie Crystals Extra Fine Granulated Sugar
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup canola or safflower oil

Cherry Sauce

Dreamy Cream Cheese Topping


Sour Cream Waffles

  1. Stir dry ingredients together until well blended.
  2. Separate eggs and whisk yolks with sour cream and oil. Pour wet ingredients into dry and stir together until flour is just moistened.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until stiff and carefully fold into batter. S
  4. Spoon about 1/2 cup of batter onto a greased, hot, waffle iron and cook 4-6 minutes until golden brown and crispy.
  5. Serve immediately topped with Cherry Sauce and a dollop of Dreamy Cream Cheese Topping.

Cherry Sauce

  1. Measure juice and add enough water to make one cup of liquid.
  2. Blend cherry juice and water with cornstarch, salt and sugar and add this back to cherries. Cook  mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly until thickened. Remove from heat add almond extract.

Dreamy Cream Cheese Topping

  1. Blend ingredients until smooth and creamy. Drop by spoonful onto center of waffle and top with cherry sauce.

Recipe adapted from/updated from the original with Dixie Crystals Sugar

I have an ongoing partnership with Dixie Crystals.