Momma Told Me: 2017

Blog Archive

The Best Ways To Enjoy Tea + How To Make Tapioca Boba From Scratch

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #TeaProudly #CollectiveBias
Interested in enjoying a hot cup of Bigelow Tea this fall season? Hover over the photo above to click through to and shop some of my personal favorite varieties!

This season and I have a strange relationship.

The changing weather, restless leaves, and overcast days always tempt me to call in sick and curl up with a good book and a favorite cup of tea. Then there are the other fall days- busy days peppered with meal planning on a grand size, the juggling of seasonal recitals, and impending housework. It all seems to go by in a blink, making me ever so content to stop and enjoy those special moments highlighted prior. Yes, this is definitely one season where I don't feel any guilt over sipping in the days; and it wouldn't quite be fall without Bigelow.
#TeaProudly with Bigelow Tea Varietes at Walmart #AD
I am far from perfect.

Okay, ignore the mug, my kind father gave that to me as a gift on my 30th birthday- he thinks much too highly of me. In truth this time of the year brings out the worst in me- I've seriously considered investing in seasonal counseling AND a personal assistant just to survive these 3 months. We all love our family, but do they absolutely have to show up with their foreign exchange student, and 5 suitcases of laundry, with absolutely no notice the night before Thanksgiving? The leaves this time of year are gorgeous, but is it imperative that my neighbor's gardeners pile them up on the boundary line like a giant 'I'm better than you' trophy blowing in my face? And that stunning purple yam vegan cheesecake I saw on Pinterest, is it supposed to sink 2" in the center and blacken?

Deep breaths. Long sips.

That's my secret- a great cup of my favorite Bigelow teas. A stolen moment here and there. Some much needed, and deserved, me time.
I may tea proudly this time of the year, but creating truly glorious tea time moments doesn't have to be a hassle (unlike figuring out which of the 10 holiday storage boxes the glass bulb hangers fell into in January of this year.)  You see, there's a reason I choose Bigelow as my tea brand; several, really. Not only has Bigelow been the tea of choice in my family for generations- right back to the scent of Earl Grey from my grandmother's lap, it's a tea brand built ON generations. Bigelow is a family built brand around for almost as many generations as my own family has been enjoying it.

You'll find Bigelow's over 40 varieties of bagged teas on shelves at your local Walmart, each of them featuring the signature easy tear foil packs, which lock in the freshness of every leaf and flavor. Made in the USA, Bigelow is known for quality ingredients across their traditional varieties, such as Earl Grey, and Green Tea, as well as their seasonal favorites, Toasted Coconut, Pumpkin Spice, and Salted Caramel. My kitchen pantry is never short of at least 5 of our family's favorite varieties.
#TeaProudly with Bigelow Tea Varietes at Walmart #AD
Part of the fun of planning a Bigelow moment is picking out your flavor- I've even been known to mix and match a few to make my own. (Red Rooibos and Chamomile go amazing together in a sunset like show.) As we transition into the fall season I find myself clinging to the last of Summer's harvest flavors- orchards full of juicy ripe peaches, a flavor reminiscent in Bigelow's Perfect Peach variety. The aroma of this particular brew never ceases to delight me, or the wonderful warm orange hue it slowly brews in my mug of hot water. Perfect Peach moments are all about taking a little vacation in my home, no matter what is going on at that particular time. A fresh plate of fruit, a funny meme feed, and my mug- don't bother me.
A comforting cup of tea is certainly an all day necessity- even when I was a little girl I would look forward to twilight in anticipation of a few sips of Momma's 'nighttime' tea blend. With no caffeine, and all natural, Bigelow's Sweet Dreams blend of chamomile and mint help soothe me to sleep when my mind is otherwise still quite alive and electric from the day's events. Tea time at the end of the day is just as much a ritual as it is during the day, especially during the busy months ahead. I particularly enjoy a piping hot mug, bedside, while writing in my journey and checking off the schedule for the following day.
At it's core a cup of tea is a simple delight, an easy way to indulge without guilt, or hassle- all you need is a cup of water.

But, now and then, I like to truly treat myself with and equally simple ritual and tea addition that was once thought to be a luxury. As it turns out, jut about anyone can make delicious tapioca boba pearls in about 15 minutes with only 4 ingredients. To follow along with this fun, almost zen-like, task of homemade tapioca pearls you'll need to gather:

Boiling Hot Water
Tapioca Flour (I usually buy in bulk)
Bigelow Tea Of Choice (I use Earl Grey)
Brown Sugar/Honey
Optional Food Color
I must've read a gazillion how-to's and Instructables on this process with poor grainy photos and contradicting information. Calling these 'Boba' is technically incorrect- and 'black' or 'sweet' Boba isn't a real thing, unless you're in a homeland cafe where the pearls are soaked in a genuine sticky syrup, and essentially aged.

Once you've accepted this, and the fact that your water (I use tea as a water base, for flavor) must in fact be boiling hot in order for the 'dough' to take shape, you'll be good to go.

I could give you measurements, and make things exact but I've found that this really is more of a fun art, than a science. The general rule of thumb is to add 1:3 ratio, water to tapioca flour. In general I put about 2 C of tapioca flour in a stainless steel mixing bowl and make a well in the center of the mound. I then pour about 4 TBS of boiling hot tea water in the enter and stir with a spoon. I'll continue to mix until the dry ingredients are wet and sticky, adding TBS by TBS of tea at a time until this is accomplished. Next I'll put on some gloves and sprinkle more tapioca flour atop my sticky ball and begin kneading until I have an easily malleable ball of dough.
The outside of your dough will want to crack and dry quite rapidly, so you should work fast on the next steps, but you can easily add a little moisture to the larger dough mass to 'bring it back to life' if needed. A general good practice is to lightly drape a damp towel over the main dough mass, while working to shape your smaller pearl balls, to help prevent it from drying out.

Next, break off portions of your main dough and roll them into an even snake, about 1/2" thick.

Lay out your 'snake' segments and cut them into equally long (1/2") segments.

Take each segment and roll it into a tiny ball, and set aside on a wax paper surface.

While you are going through the somewhat zen, but time consuming process of rolling all these balls put a pot of 3-4 cups water on the stove and bring it to a boil.

Note: These homemade tapioca pearls should be 'cooked' an should not be stores in this dry dough state, as they WILL dry out and not cook right. Use them immediately after you are done rolling all of your smaller balls.
Once you have all of your tapioca pearls rolled add 1.5 C brown sugar to the water and stir rapidly until dissolved.

Reserve 1 C of this brown sugar water in a heat safe container. This will serve as your suspension for your cooked tapioca balls, upon removal.

Add any desired flavoring or food colors to your remaining boiling brown sugar water at this time.

Carefully lower your rolled tapioca balls into the boiling mixture, and allow to simmer until they rise to the surface (about 7-10 minutes).

Remove from the water, carefully, with a slotted spoon, and place cooked tapioca balls in reserved sugar mixture from earlier. Store in the fridge until cool and serve in your favorite glass of Bigelow tea. Cooked tapioca pearls will store in syrup mixture for 3-4 days in the fridge, though they never last that long in our home!
Enjoy homemade tapioca pearls in your tea with this simple tutorial! #TeaProudly with Bigelow teas at Walmart. #AD
Enjoying a cup of my favorite Bigelow Tea, Constant Comment, with some homemade tapioca pearls and a ribbon of condensed milk is one of my favorite ways to treat myself at home. That's the true beauty of a great tea, really, it doesn't have to be dressed up to make for a special moment- but it also helps one feel truly pampered when they choose to. If you've never tried Constant Comment, it's not only my favorite sipping tea, but my favorite brining/cooking tea thanks to it's slightly spicy black tea blend that you'll only find with the Bigelow brand name.
#TeaProudly with Bigelow Tea Varietes at Walmart #AD
Of course my final favorite way to enjoy a cup of tea is with friends or family, in every day moments that are sometimes otherwise overlooked. With all the hustle and bustle of the season we so often occupying the same space, with absolutely no concern for how valuable the mere presence of one another truly is.

Naturally, we all enjoy our own favorite sips- while mine tend to change with the weather and my mood, Jeremy loves all of Bigelow's many varieties of flavored Green Tea options. Quality green tea blends with natural flavoring, such as the mug of Green Tea with Mint he is sipping on here. Of course Gidget isn't too keen on being put down for even a moment, so he often gets suckered into juggling a miniature dog while sipping and unwinding in the afternoon. To be fair, she does put on quite the pitiful display.
#TeaProudly with Bigelow Tea Varietes at Walmart #AD
So there you have it, my favorite ways to enjoy a glass of piping hot Bigelow tea this season- and why this simple ritual helps keep me sane through the months ahead. If you Tea Proudly, or still need a little inspiration to find your tea moment at home, wander on over to the Tea Proudly hub for some more amazing inspiration and ideas. You'll also find plenty of uplifting tea time moments on Bigelow's social channels, which you can find here on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. If you try our homemade tapioca pearls tutorial, leave me a note and let me know how they turn out, or if you have any questions! Now, tell me, what's your favorite flavor of tea to Tea Proudly with?

P.S. Did you see all the cool things in this post? Don't forget to 'shop' with the interactive image at the beginning of this post, and PIN the Homemade Tapioca Pearl Tutorial PIN Strip, below!

Inside-Out S'mores Bars Recipe

Inside-out S'mores Bars Box Mix Cooking Shortcut/Hack Recipe
Momma Told Me: Think outside the box.

This isn't a particularly pretty post- in fact, it was never really intended to be it's own blog post. I'd quite intended to mess around with a GIF or PIN strip some day- thus the lack of gooey-messy foodie shots, or excessive styling. The lighting isn't even great- it was an overcast day and half of my condo was moved into the new house, so I was really just 'working with what I had'. But, to be honest, these were actually requested by someone in my league to be posted, so here I am sitting down to type up one of the most basic, simple, recipes that has ever crossed my little space on the web.
Inside-out S'mores Bars Box Mix Cooking Shortcut/Hack Recipe
Growing up Momma loved 'boxed' recipe hacks- if there was any way she could save time while adding her own touch or twist to make something magical, she'd find it. Making 'boxed' recipe hacks are often not only time saving, but also quite affordable. Which makes them my go-to when I have to feed a large number of people (say, an entire bowling league) with only a few hours notice. After all, I am the 'dessert' lady, and blood sugar levels drop to dangerous numbers when I don't bring in the weekly fix for my bowlers!
This Inside-Out S'mores Bars recipe is so simple it doesn't require a narrated post- but the photos are still pretty to look at, right? I used to agonize over what brand or variety of boxed this or that I would choose when shopping for boxed recipes I'd found on Pinterest. The truth is most are pretty forgiving and you should always go with your personal tastes when picking 'the box.' For example, I love the triple fudge brownie variation of brownie mix from a certain big name baker brand- so that's what I use here. However, you may prefer a more malty milk chocolate flavor to compliment the s'mores theme, or perhaps something even more wild, such as a blondie mix. You really can't go wrong.
There are a few variations of this concept, and I completely endorse the variation where you layer chocolate bars atop your marshmallow layer before smothering it with the second half of your brownie batter- but, on this day, I needed a slightly less messy concept considering people would be putting their chocolatey hands in heavy balls at high velocities just after consumption. My personal 'twist' to this idea is double graham crackers- but that's always been my favorite part of the s'mores experience!
Inside-out S'mores Bars Box Mix Cooking Shortcut/Hack Recipe
You may be tempted to pull these out of the pan and start devouring them on the spot- Take my advice, let them cool thoroughly, especially if going the chocolate bar route. Not only will pretty much any cutting utensil instinctively want to stick to every inch of marshmallow, but the entire bar itself will crumble at the graham layer if you dive right in too soon. Don't worry, they're still be gooey and indulgent when cooled.
Inside-out S'mores Bars Box Mix Cooking Shortcut/Hack Recipe
So just a little further down you'll find the 'official' recipe- if the photos aren't instruction enough. Pretty much anyone can make these, and they go from box to belly in less than an hour (cool time included). Give them a try the next time you need to be a potluck/classroom mom/unexpected dinner guests hero. Now tell me a little bit about how you like to 'dress up' or incorporate boxed mixes into your cooking routine!

What Daughter Says: Sometimes delicious doesn't have to be fancy- boxed mix hacks make it as easy as 1-2-3.

Inside-out S'mores Bars Box Mix Cooking Shortcut/Hack Recipe
Inside-Out S'mores Bars 
***Click here for printable Inside-Out Smores Bars Recipe

Egg-Free Raw Cookie Dough + Creamy Broccoli White Bean Soup Recipes

This post was sponsored by S&W Beans and all opinions expressed in my post are my own. All photos contained below are copyright Momma Told Me Blog 2017.
The secret ingredient to this creamy dairy free (Vegan) Broccoli White Bean Soup is delicious #SWBeans. #Sponsored
While I may not be able to tell it by the weather, here in SoCal, the immediate over-saturation of Pumpkin Spice everything, and the stunning photos of leaves changing on Facebook tell me that Fall has arrived.

Since I may not notice much of a difference between the seasons, until those clocks Fall back in a few weeks, I'm relying on some classic comfort foods to help get me in the mood. Of course, one way in which I know it is indeed Fall is my increasingly packed schedule. As the days and weeks progress towards the end of the year, with holiday gathering and shopping sprinkled in, I will find myself with less and less free time. Every now and then I'll get wrapped up in a busy work week, or the start of our Fall bowling league, and find myself swamped with things to do.

Because of this simplicity is definitely one of my key words this time of the year. and simplicity not only means time-saving in the kitchen, but but more robust flavors, and delicious filling snacks and meals as well.
Earlier in the year I shared a few of my favorite unexpected ways to add a little extra, affordable, protein, fiber, and vitamins into my everyday cooking and snacking routines; the fabulous, varied, world of beans. I also shared that S&W Beans, a standard leader in the industry for over 120 years now, is my preferred brand of canned beans not only for the 7 types of beans, across over 40 varieties, they offer, but for the picture perfect quality that lends itself to that 'eating with your eyes' recipe finish. S&W Beans also offers a Recipe Collection, Low Sodium Options, and the new Organic range of beans, so you can always choose what fits your family and recipe best.
But don't take my word for it, find an S&W Beans retailer near you then take advantage of this special limited time printable coupon for $1 off of 2 cans of S&W Beans (Now through 12/31/2017). Not only is that an amazing high value coupon, it's the perfect excuse to try a new recipe, or even variety of beans! Not sure how to think outside the can when it comes to beans? Feel free to take a peek at our previous S&W Beans post for a light and easy Bean Salad preparation and Vegan Black Bean Brownies recipe. You can also follow the brand on Pinterest and Instagram for some amazing bean inspired recipes ans serving ideas!
And, of course, I can't leave you hanging without some fresh seasonally inspired recipe creations- so I took to the kitchen, beans in hand, erm can? To begin I decided to make a nice, simple, yet filling and creamy soup offering. This Creamy Broccoli White Bean Soup recipe requires a quick reduction on the stove-top, followed by a few pulses in an immersion blender. It's base recipe is vegan and dairy free; thanks the the S&W Cannellini White Kidney Beans it has a rich and hearty texture that needs no added cream.
The secret to this recipe is simmering the shallot and garlic in your olive oil until just fragrant and browned. This helps release the flavors that will infuse your broccoli and beans as your reduce them.The trick to getting a great creamy texture, without dairy, is in the high quality S&W Kidney Beans, pre-cooked to the perfect texture. During the simmer process these beans slowly cloud the broth releasing an even protein rich base that blends perfectly into the broccoli for a satisfying mouth-feel you typically only find in cream based soups.
The secret ingredient to this creamy dairy free (Vegan) Broccoli White Bean Soup is delicious #SWBeans. #Sponsored
At the bottom of the post I've included the recipe for this Creamy Broccoli White Bean Soup, at it's most simplest base. Feel free to ad some chili flakes during the reduction process, or to top with a sprinkle of fresh cracked pepper for a little extra bite. Because this soup tends to be thick and creamy serve it piping hot!
The second recipe I want to share with you is another one of those 'secret ingredient' recipes you'll love fooling guests with. Cookie dough may not seem like a traditional Fall recipe, but I think all things under the 'comfort food' umbrella fit in with Fall, and raw cookie dough is definitely a comfort food for me. However you bill this to those you serve it to, 'raw cookie dough,' 'egg-free cookie dough,' or even 'vegan cookie dough,' you're sure to trick taste-buds with a classic texture and taste that is guilt free.
My secret ingredient in this particular recipe is S&W Premium Organic Garbanzo Beans (or, as Jay calls them, chickpeas)- I'll be honest, I've only cooked with garbanzo beans a few times, so I was a bit intimidated at first. Thankfully my S&W Beans were already cooked to the perfect texture, and the Organic variety meant there would be only the purest of light flavoring in the background of my 'dough' base.

If you are a bit shy of trying such a radical recipe then go ahead and use regular dark chocolate chips, instead of a dairy free/vegan variety- it may help ease younger family members and skeptics in. You can also increase the amount of maple syrup added for additional sweetness, though this exact recipe fooled my father on the first try. He said it was delicious, and asked if my 'raw cookie dough' could be baked. Haha- not quite, dad.
For those wondering this Egg-Free Cookie Dough will store in the fridge and keep texture, just make sure it's in a sealed container- I also suggest allowing it to sit at room temperature for 3-5 minutes prior to digging in- though it never survives long enough for us to have leftovers to store!

So there you have my two favorite ways to infuse 'outside the can' thinking into some Fall comfort staples with S&W Beans. Be sure to grab the printable coupon for $1 off 2 cans of S&W Beans, and share with me your favorite beans, and how to prepare them! Also, please let me know if you try either recipe!

Fool even the pickiest of tastebuds with this healthy guilt-free, protein packed, egg-free, vegan raw cookie dough recipe. #SWBeans #Sponsored
Egg-Free (Vegan Option) Cookie Dough
****Click here for printable Egg-Free Cookie Dough Recipe

Help Raise Money For TX + FL Hurricane Victims When You Spot #SealsForGood
If there's one thing people who know me know I love, it's cheese.

I don't need any extra incentives to eat delicious dairy products, so you can imagine how tickled I was to learn my favorite Real California Milk products were joining together to merge another of my passions, philanthropy, with calcium rich, nourishing, dairy items our family eats every day. I mean the satisfying feeling of giving back could only be made better when paired with the prospect of giving back over delicious dairy products, right? Don't worry, my lactose intolerant friends, thanks to this unique #SealsForGood initiative ANYBODY in California can give back simply by snapping a photo of a product with the Real California Milk Seal- no purchase necessary.

So, if you're one of those rare people I still don't quite believe exist, who don't love dairy, you can still turn your next shopping trip into a fun photo-scavenger hunt and help a great cause right from the store's aisle on your phone's social media apps.
Want to know more?

It's easy, really.

First, go to your nearest fridge, or supermarket cold case, and find a product with the Real California Milk Silk. You might be surprised how many products have the RCM seal- It's definitely NOT limited to just milk and cheese. I found the seal on cottage cheese, butter, sour cream, ice cream (even mochi!), yogurt, smoothies, and much more!

The Real California Milk Seal itself is a stamp of sorts found on packaging (printed or in the form of a sticker) which tells consumers that the product is made with wholesome, locally sourced, California dairy milk. These are products that aren't overly processed, and contain minimal ingredients, sourced by real family farms right in the state. It's not only a great way to help shop quality products for your family, it's a great way to support the local economy.
Once you've 'spotted the seal' you're going to need to snap a photo of it as proof.  Feel free to get creative and snap a photo of the product with your favorite recipe, or just get down and dirty right there in the store on the shelf. As long as your photo clearly shows the Real California Milk Seal you're on your way to helping spread some much needed aide to families recovering from the resent TX and FL hurricanes.
Lastly, take your photo and pull it into a new social share on your network of choice- it doesn't matter where the photo is shared but- you MUST include the appropriate tags and handles:

  • If you are using Facebook, tag @RealCaliforniaMilk AND use the hashtag #SealsForGood. 
  • If you are using Instagram, tag @RealCalifMilk AND use the hashtag #SealsForGood
  • For all other platforms upload your photo with the #SealsForGood hashtag.
You have until 12/31/17 to get those Real California Milk seal photos shared, so no excuses, okay? For every submission Real California Milk will donate $5 to the Great American Milk Drive (up to $20,000) to help families affected by hurricane Harvey and Irma in Texas and Florida. No purchase necessary.
The Great American Milk Drive is a wonderful charity designed to help provide the basic staple of milk to families who may be suffering in the aftermath of the recent Harvey and Irma hurricanes. Donations will be made in $5 (per share/photo) increments up to $20k OR the 12/31/17 deadline, whichever comes first. The Great American Milk Drive, in partnership with Feeding America, has delivered more than 1 million gallons of milk to food banks across the country since 2014 to help families get the nutrients they need.

I know a lot of my fellow Californians have been lamenting over how they can help the Texas and Florida hurricane victims, while so far away. My own town ran several commercial trucks full of collected supplies several borders over during the Texas hurricane- but so many of my fellow Californians still want to do more. This is the best kind of charity; nourish your family with your favorite Real California Milk seal products and share a simple photo that gives back. Easy-Cheesy.