Afternoon Tea

Yesterday, I invited two of my friends over for afternoon tea. I didn’t want anything too overtop but I did want it to be special, especially because one of my friends had never had afternoon tea. I went with a  mismatched themed as I wanted it to be casual yet girly. I set the table with a white tablecloth and put a rose fabric topper made out of a thrifted piece of vintage fabric.

The centerpiece was a painted Mason jar with silk flowers. I would have loved fresh flowers but honestly, fresh flowers never last in my home. They are my cat’s favorite snack! I don’t support his addiction to eating  flowers, so I don’t tempt him by bringing them in. I wonder if they have a support group for people like me? Ha!

I used thrifted cloth napkins with the sweetest embroidered pink flower. Aren’t they so pretty?

Look at these beautiful little treats! I had my daughter help with making them and the decoration.

Afternoon tea is her favorite and she loves to help set up and decorate! A girl after my own heart!

I brought out this beautiful white teapot that my mamma bought for me last year. She got one to match for herself.

The sugar bowl is part of another set that was given to me as a going away present from some friends last summer. I love this set and use almost daily.

I served PG Tips again. I chose this one because both of my friends are coffee girls, so I wanted a full flavor tea.

Recognize this teacup? She has already made an appearance here.

I brought out my favorite creamer in my favorite pattern, Royal Albert’s Old Country Rose. A classic beauty!

I love the light reflecting off my pink depression plates. So pretty!

I served Lemon Curd Filled Vanilla Cakes with Vanilla Buttercream.

They were delicious! So moist and tangy from the lemon curd filling, and sweet and creamy from the vanilla buttercream. I love the fresh raspberry on top!

 

My daughter also made the Lemon Drizzle cakes. She wanted to make the recipe all on her own.

I think she did a great job!

I also served crustless mini quiches with peppers and dill. So scrumptious!

I brought out hats so my friends could wear them. They loved it!

We had a lovely time together chatting, sipping tea, enjoying all the lovely treats, and just having girl time. I asked my one friend who had never had afternoon tea how she liked it, and her answer was, “I can’t wait for the next one!” I think it’s safe to say she loved it!

Isn’t afternoon tea just so wonderful? I think so!

Enjoy!

~Ana

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Sticky Toffee Pudding

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The first time I had sticky toffee pudding was at a tea room in Chattanooga, TN. I had just finished a lovely meal with my friend, Star, at the English Rose downtown and the server recommended it from the menu. I ordered one to share with my daughter, a decision that I regretted almost immediately. One bite in and I was in gastronomical heaven. Wow! the cake was rich, moist, sweet, gooey, delicious. Two bites in and I almost had to fight my daughter to get another bite. So, so good! At that moment, Sticky Toffee Pudding became my number one and most favorite dessert of all time.

As soon as I got home I researched the internet to find the best recipe. Some of the recipes I found were good, but none as delicious as the one I had at the tea room. I had to play around with different recipes until I got the right cake consistency and flavor. I think it took about 3 or 4 times but with every try, the texture and taste improved. I have to warn you though, this cake is highly addictive. I usually make individual cakes because they make a beautiful presentation when served, and also stay moister that way. I can’t say enough great things about this cake. So, If you are ready to have your life changed forever, then keep on reading…

Sticky Toffee Pudding

1 1/2 cups of dates, seedless

1/2 cup, hot boiling water

1 1/2 cups, self rising flour

1 tsp, baking soda, divided

1 tsp, baking powder

2/3 cup, dark brown sugar

6 tbsp, unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 eggs

1 1/2 tsp, vanilla extract

Directions:

 In a bowl, add dates and pour boiling water over them. Add half of the the baking soda (1/2 tsp) and stir to combine. Allow that to sit for about 10 minutes until the dates have soften. While dates are getting soft, preheat the oven to 350º and grease a cupcake/muffin baking tray and set aside. Once dates are soft, use a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.

In a separate bowl, add the flour, baking soda (the remaining 1/2 tsp), and baking powder. In another bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until pale in color. Add the eggs, one at a time until well incorporated. Add the vanilla extract and mix together to combine. Add the date mixture, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and mix again until smooth. Using a spatula, gently fold in the flour mixture until all has been incorporated. Be careful not to over mix. The batter should be smooth and thick. Pour into the prepared muffin tin and bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 15-20 minutes, give or take. Allow the cakes to cool for about 5 minutes in the pan before turning them over onto a baking tray or any container with tall sides. Poke holes all over the cakes and pour the toffee sauce. Let them sit in the sauce and reserve some as well for garnish. These cakes last well over a week in the fridge. They also are great make ahead desserts for any tea or dinner party. Serve them warm with custard or vanilla ice cream, and you are in for an adventure! As my daughter would say, “It’s a party in my mouth!” Ha!

Toffee Sauce

1 3/4 cups, dark brown sugar

2 sticks, butter

1/2 cup, heavy cream (or 1/4 milk and 1/4 cream or half and half, which is what I normally use)

a pinch of salt

In a saucepan, on medium heat, combine all the ingredients together and stir. Once all the sugar has melted, allow the sauce to come to a boil and immediately remove from the heat. Pour over the cakes and save some for garnish. This sauce will hold in the fridge for a couple of weeks.

I hope you give this recipe a try. It truly is the best dessert I have ever had. Seriously, nothing beats this pudding…nothing. Oh! guess what’s even better? This is wonderful with a nice cuppa tea. Can life be any better? I think not! Go! Get baking, now!

Enjoy!

~Ana

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Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes with Vegan Vanilla Buttercream

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Sometime in early January, my family and I went vegan for about 8 weeks (we eat a mostly vegetarian diet with the addition of salmon every so often). We had just started to get back into the swing of regular life after a gastronomically exciting holiday season (I don’t know about you, but in my family we eat non-st0p from Thanksgiving to New Years!). We wanted to just lay off the heavy food and just focus on eating healthier, with less processed foods, and no dairy. That turned out to be a challenge for me since I love to bake, and most baked goods require creamy, delicious, butter and eggs. But, a challenge never stopped me! I surfed the internet and found a few vegan recipes to try. Some were terrible and others were total failures! A few here and there were good enough base recipes that I tweaked and resulted in good products.

I spent some time reworking some of my own recipes into vegan options like the chunky monkey banana bread recipe (get the recipe here), and even some bread recipes that I will share soon. Somewhere in the process, I found a chocolate cake recipe that seemed like a good base. Unfortunately, I can’t remember the website I got it from because I hand wrote the recipe on a sticky note. I did change a few things in it, which improved the taste and texture of the cake, so I guess I will call it mine now. However, I want to thank the person who created it because they provided a great working base for me. So, thank you random internet person. Thank you for sharing your recipe with me!

This cake is moist, light, fluffy, chocolatey, rich, and delicious. The buttercream is sweet, creamy, and luxurious. Truly, a winner recipe! Oh! and did I mention it is great with tea? It is! I hope you give it a try. If you do, please, comment or send me a message. I would love to hear how you liked it!

Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes

1 cup All Purpose flour, sifted

3/4 cup, plus 3 tbsp sugar

1/4 cup, special dark cocoa powder, sifted

3/4 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1 cup, unsweetened almond milk (or any nut milk)

1/3 cup, vegetable oil

1 tsp. white vinegar

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350º and line a cupcake or muffin pan with cupcake liners.

In a large bowl, sift all the dry ingredients together (flour, sugar, cocoa powder, salt, baking soda, baking powder). Mix together to combine. Add milk, vinegar, oil, and vanilla extract. Mix together until well mixed and batter is smooth. Using an ice cream scoop or a measuring cup, pour into a prepared muffin pan, lined with cupcake liners, filling about 1/2 way up. Bake at 350º for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let them cool in the pan completely before frosting. You can decorate it with anything your heart desires. I used a strawberry for these.

Vegan Vanilla Buttercream

2 sticks of Earth Balance vegan butter sticks (the yellow box), at room temperature.

3 cups, confectioners sugar (powder or icing sugar), sifted

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 tsp. unsweetened almond milk (or as much or little as needed)

Instructions:

In the bowl of a stand mixer (or using a hand mixer), cream the butter at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add half of the sugar and mix well, at medium speed until creamy and fluffy, and the butter is pale in color. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the vanilla extract and the rest of the sugar and mix at medium speed for about one minute or until creamy and smooth. Add the milk if needed to loosen up the buttercream or omit if it isn’t needed.

I have found that depending on the temperature of my kitchen at the time, the buttercream can get slightly runny. If this happens, don’t panic! Simply put the bowl with the buttercream in the freezer for about 5 minutes and let it come together again. Using a rubber spatula, you can whip it again to make it nice and smooth.

Enjoy!
~Ana

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Chunky Monkey Banana Bread~Vegan


Tea time for us, is the time of the day in which we take a break from all our duties and sit together as a family. As much as we love tea, and all the yummy treats that go with it, it can get out control with all the sugar in baked goods. At home, I do my best to make most of the baked goods we have for tea. Not only do I enjoy baking, it is also a way to include my daughter in the process and provide a healthier treat. This banana bread is one of my family’s favorite tea time treats. It is moist, delicious, and healthy. It is dairy free and loaded with fiber. What’s not to love?!!!! This can be made into a large loaf or into muffins, for on the go breakfast or snack. I hope you give this a try. Send me a message or a comment and let me know how you liked it.

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Chunky Monkey Banana Bread~ Vegan

1  3/4 cup, All Purpose flour

1  1/2 cup, mashed (over ripe) bananas

1 cup, brown sugar

3/4 cup, vegetable oil (I use coconut oil)

3 Tbsp, chia seeds

9 Tbsp, water

1  1/2 tsp, baking soda

1 tsp, salt

1/4 cup, chopped dates

3 tsp, vanilla extract

2 tsp, cinnamon

1/4 cup coconut flakes (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Heat oven to 350° and line a muffin pan with paper liners, or lightly grease the loaf pan.
  2. In a cup, add the chia seeds and water and mix together. Let it sit for a few minutes until it has bloomed and it is gelatinous. Omit this step and substitute for 3 eggs if you don’t want a vegan product.
  3. In a bowl, combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking soda & salt. Mix well.
  4. In a separate bowl, add the mashed bananas, oil, vanilla, chopped dates, chia seeds mixture, and coconut flakes (if desired). Mix well to combine.
  5. Add the banana mixture to the flour mixture and mix until well combined.
  6. Using an ice-cream scoop or two spoons, pour batter into the prepared paper liners, filling them about 3/4 of the way, or pour into the loaf pan. If desired, top with coconut flakes.
  7. Bake for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, or for about 35 minutes for a loaf pan.
  8. Allow to cool for a few minutes before eating, or if you are like me, and have no patience, eat them while they are hot!

Enjoy!!

~Ana

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Pretty in Pink Tea

Just a few weeks ago, my friend’s daughter turned 5. She is a girly girl who loves pink, so her mamma and I set out to celebrate her birthday with an all pink tea party. My friend being so talented, decorated her dining room while I made the cupcakes, marshmallow pops, and other yummy treats. We set the table for the little ladies and served them strawberry milk for “tea”. They loved it! Here are some pictures of the Pretty in Pink birthday tea party. 10994878_1602643926615976_134452230202415814_n

Freshly picked pink tulips in a white vase for center pieces.

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Lace, floral china, and doilies brought a vintage flair.

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This floral tea pot is sure to make any tea party exciting!

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Vanilla cupcakes with vanilla buttercream roses added a sweet touch. 

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Everything was so pretty and girly. Simple and sweet, just like the birthday girl.

Isn’t life better with tea? I think so!

~Ana

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Tea for 3

Most mornings I ask my daughter what she wants for breakfast and her answer is almost the same every time, “Tea”. Tea is something we delight ourselves with on a daily basis at home. In the mornings, we usually have English Breakfast or a Chai blend. Many times in the afternoon, we have something a little lighter, paired with a slice of banana bread, scones, or a biscuit or two. Evening ritual usually involves chamomile, fennel or mint. This is what taking tea looks like at home for us on any given day. 10959885_1596868533860182_1929510364340737958_n

I really love mixing all different types of china.


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Cucumber sandwiches are my daughter’s favorite. She made these open faced sandwiches for us to enjoy.

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Biscoff biscuits are always a favorite around here.

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What does taking tea look like for you?

Enjoy!!! ~Ana

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