Homemade Caramel Apple Spice Cider

I’ve never been much of a coffee drinker. On rare occasions when I am feeling in need of the caffeine boost, I’ll drink a cup of coffee, but I make myself consume it black so I don’t actually like the way it tastes and that way I won’t get addicted to it. That sort of makes a little bit of sense, right?

While I definitely enjoy hot tea often, apple cider is my winter beverage of choice. Say what you want about hot chocolate or eggnog, but in my mind apple cider is the perfect beverage on a cold winter’s day. Recently, I’ve become a bit obsessed with Starbuck’s caramel apple spice. But, with my gift card supply dwindling and not wanting to shell out $3+ of my own money, I decided to make my own.

Turns out, their “apple spice” is simply a mixture of steamed apple juice and cinnamon dolce syrup that is topped with whipped cream and caramel sauce. I can do that. And so can you.

The front one is topped with whipped coconut milk. Great if your vegan or dairy-free!

Cinnamon Dolce Syrup

1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 cup water

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp  ground cinnamon

1-2 cinnamon sticks

1/2 tsp whole cloves

1/2 tsp whole allspice

Peel of one small orange (a clementine cutie works well)

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan. Simmer on low heat for 40 minutes. Mixture should be very fragrant. Remove cinnamon sticks, cloves, allspice and orange peel from the syrup. Syrup may be stored in the fridge in an airtight container.

For Apple Cider:  

Place 2 tablespoons (more or less depending on how sweet you like your cider) cinnamon dolce syrup in the bottom of a mug. You can add a little caramel sauce in the bottom of the mug at this point also. Fill mug with apple juice. Microwave for about 1 1/2 minutes until throughly heated. Topped with whipped cream and caramel, if desired. Serve and enjoy!

Beverage is best enjoyed by a fire.

I’d certainly argue that this is way better than Apple Spice at Starbucks. It has more flavor for which I give much of the credit to the orange peel. I also love that you can easily control the level of sweetness.

Then again, I’m not exactly unbiased.

What is your winter drink of choice? Anyone like eggnog?

I haven’t actually tried it since I was 10 or so, but I remember thinking it was the nastiest thing ever. I’m afraid to try it again!

I hope everyone is enjoying getting ready for Christmas! I can’t believe it is so soon.

Thankful Thursday : Turn That Frown Upside-Down (and cake!)

I’ve haven’t done Thankful Thursday in practically forever. I can’t believe I let it fall by the wayside for so long. It is long past time for it to be reinstituted. Only this week’s addition is a tad different. I like to call it Turn that Frown Upside-down.

All you have to do is take something negative and turn it into a positive. Take a complaint and turn it into an appreciation.

:( These Strawberry cherries don’t taste much like strawberries.

:) These strawberries cherries are delicious.

Source

:( I can’t believe summer ends in a month.

:) Senior year officially begins in a month!

:( I am so sore I can hardly move.

:) That was a great workout: I’m so glad I worked hard.

:( It’s so hot outside.

:) The Sun is shining; it’s a beautiful day!

:( This cake has so much butter and sugar.

:) This cake is soooo delicious and besides, Michael Polan says to eat as much junk food as you want….as  long as you make it yourself. (The logic is that you won’t take the time to make stuff  yourself very often; clearly he doesn’t know me.)

:( My sister made it.

:) We are of the same flesh and blood….did I mention the cake is delicious?

 

Mimi’s Cream Cheese Pound Cake

This decadent cake which has been in my family for years will be the star of an meal you serve it with. A small piece on ocassion can certainly be part of a nutritious and balanced lifestyle.

Ingredients:

3 sticks of butter

8oz cream cheese

3 cups sugar

6 eggs

3 cups flour

1 Tablespoon vanilla

Instructions:

Cream butter, cream cheese, and sugar. Add eggs and flour alternately. Mix in vanilla. Pour into a greased angel food(tube) pan*. Bake at 325 degrees for 90-120 minutes or until wooden stick interested comes out clean. Let cool and serve with homemade whipped cream and sliced strawberries.

*2 loaf pans may be used  in place of 1 angel food (tube) pan. If so, check cakes after one hour.

What is a frown in your life that you can turn upside down?

                                                                                                                                                              

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Peanut Butter Rice Crispies with Chocolate Topping

This is a family favorite that I’ve been making and enjoy for many years.

Many, many years.

But, a month ago I probably wouldn’t have posted them, because they aren’t exactly “healthy,” whatever that means. But, as you know, I’m so over that. Don’t get me wrong, I have not thrown nutritious eating out the window. In fact, yesterday, I had a big ol’ bowl of oatmeal for breakfast, a lovely salad with lots of spinach for lunch, and whole wheat pasta with avocado cream sauce with lots of zucchini and yellow squash on the side for dinner. And then, I had one of these for dessert. Balance is a beautiful thing.

And, it took me forever to find the corn syrup in the grocery store. It’s something I almost never use, so I had no idea where it would be located. But, fortunately, I found it. Just so you know, it’s by the pancake syrup.

Peanut Butter Rice with Chocolate Topping

These delicious treats are very quick to make and can be kept in the fridge for several days.

1 cup sugar

1 cup light corn syrup

1 1/2 cups peanut butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

6 cups rice crispies

12 oz chocolate chips

6 oz butterscotch chips

1/2 cup butter.

Please rice crispies in a large bowl. Heat sugar and corn syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat until they come to a boil. Boil for one minute, stirring regularly. Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter and vanilla. Pour sugar/pb mixture over rice crispies. Press mixture into a 9×13 pan (a larger jelly roll pan may also be used, the result will just be slightly thinner). Melt chocolate, butterscotch, and butter in a small saucepan over low heat. When everything it melted, pour the mixture over the rice crispies. Spread evenly. Refrigerate until chocolate hardens. Serve and enjoy! 

 

No shame in using the same saucepan to melt the chocolate as you did to heat the sugar/corn syrup. No shame at all.

 

 

Chocolate + peanut butter + sweetness + chewiness + crunchiness + sweetness =perfection

Patriotic Salsa (in less than 5 minutes!)

 

Guacamole gets a lot of praise.

All of it completely deserved though, the stuff is delicious.

But, there’s a cousin of guacamole that doesn’t receive the credit it deserves.

And this cousin is red.

Serve in a white bowl with blue corn chips and you’re totally patriotic

More importantly, this cousin is delicious.

And takes, literally 3 minutes to make.

Fire Roasted Salsa

This super easy recipe can be made in a matter of minutes. It taste great on chips, tacos, burritos, salads, eggs, potatoes, just about anything really. Make lots, can easily be frozen.

1 (28oz) can Fire Roasted Tomatoes

2 Jalapenos, seeded

1 medium-sized bunch of cilantro with stems removed

3 gloves garlic, peeled.

1/2 a medium onion (optional)

kosher salt

A few drops of Chipotle Tabasco (regulur Tabasco or a sprinkle of cayenne pepper work well too).

Combine all of the above ingredients in a blender or food processor (no need to pre-chop any ingredients, the machine will do it for you). Blend until desired consistency is reached. Taste the salsa for flavor. At this point more salt, jalapeno, or tabasco made need to be added.

Serve and enjoy!

 

 

I guess in a perfect world you would really have guacamole and salsa.

Think I could convince the government to change our colors to red white and green?

Did you eat anything Red, White and Blue in honor of the holiday?

What is your favorite thing to eat salsa on? Anything strange/unusual?

Whenever we have baked potatoes, my family always puts salsa on them. I always thought that everyone did that. Only in recent months have I realized that hardly anyone else puts salsa on their baked potatoes (you peeps are missing out!). I also can’t eat scrambled eggs without salsa.

Dinner Tonight

 

The above was tonight’s dinner.

Marinated pork chops grilled on a soaked plank (seriously the most tender, flavorful, juicy pork chops I’ve ever had)

Prosciutto wrapped asparagus filled with farm fresh cheese (also plank grilled)

Wild Mushroom Risotto

Sooo delicious

And you know what?

I took no part in the planning or preparation of the meal.

I have awesome parents.

For realz.

Best thing you have eaten this weekend?