Apple Pie Chai

It’s not hard to see that I am pretty obsessed with Fall flavors. Pumpkin, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, apples, etc… So of course, following with my love for Autumn treats, here is a quick recipe for Apple Pie Chai. It encapsulates the wonderful cinnamon-y spice apple flavors of apple pie. All you need is apple juice and chai concentrate. My favorites for apple juice are Simply Apple  and of course Tree Top. My favorite for Chai Concetrate is Tazo, mostly due to its availability (you can find it at Starbucks, Safeway, and Target these days).

This can be made hot or iced. But with the warm afternoons we’ve been having, I’ve been sticking to iced.

Apple Pie Chai

3/4 Cup Apple Juice
3 – 4 Tablespoons Chai Concentrate (you may want to add more to your own taste)

Iced Version: Fill a glass with ice. Pour the chai concentrate over the ice, then add the apple juice. Stir to combine. Add a straw because straws make iced drinks more enjoyable.
Hot Version: Steam the apple juice either with a hand steamer, or you can heat it over the stove for a few minutes, until just simmering, or alternatively you can microwave it until it reaches your desired temperature (I would recommend 1 minute 30 seconds). Add the chai. Stir. Sip. Enjoy.

That’s all you need. Pretty simple, but way enjoyable. I would definitely consider making a carafe of this (either hot or cold) for an Autumn Party!

Note: You can also order this at Starbucks – order a chai latte but sub apple juice for milk 🙂 I recently discovered these at Starbucks which is how I came to make them myself at home. Deeeeeelicious.

Happy Almost Friday!

xx

-C

Monster Mash! Aka The Greatest Snack Ever

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Pumpkin Spice Caramel Corn. Yes, that is correct, I did say Pumpkin Spice Caramel Corn. It’s a giant ball of sugar and I love it! Combining some of the iconic flavors of Fall all into one very sugary yet delicious treat. The perfect cure for the Monday Blues.

The recipe is super simple and easily makes a giant batch. But be warned, a sugar coma is likely to follow if you eat the whole thing yourself.

Monster Mash (Pumpkin Spice Caramel Corn)

Recipe slightly adapted from Young Married Chic

Popcorn, popped (you can air pop, stove pop, or microwave – your choice!) (At least 3 oz, but the more the better in my opinion!)
1/2  butter, salted (1 stick)
1 cup yellow cake mix
1 Tablespoon pumpkin pie spice (I did 1 tablespoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, and a dash of cloves and ginger)
1/2 cup of sugar
1/4 cup of light corn syrup
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup of candy corn
1 cup of honey roasted peanuts
Halloween Sprinkles (optional – they definitely make this more festive but it’s still a little early in the season so I wasn’t able to find any yet)

Preheat oven to 250 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, set aside for later. Pop popcorn as you desire (at least 3 oz, if not more) – remove unopened kernels and pour into a large bowl.

In a small heavy saucepan, melt the butter. Stir in the cake mix, spices, sugar, corn syrup, and salt. Bring to a slow simmer, making sure not to boil or burn the sugar and stir constantly for 3-4 minutes. You should have a glob that is starting to amass together in a ball.

Pour mixture over popcorn in the bowl, stirring until all corn is coated. Stir stir stir and make sure you get every last kernel.

Spread the popcorn evenly over the baking sheet and place in the oven

Bake for 25 minutes, or until the caramel has turned light brown. Remove from oven and let cool. It will begin to harden at this point.

Break the popcorn up into smaller chunks and stir in the candy corn and peanuts. Store in an airtight container. Or if you’re feeling friendly, package individually to give away to people to prevent yourself from eating it all in one sitting like I may or may not have done.

I have decided that at least one day every weekend for the remainder of Autumn will consist of making my favorite Pumpkin Treats or testing out new ones, making&eating my favorite Autumn Dinners, & watching Halloween Disney Movies or Halloween episodes of old TGIF shows 🙂

Hope you’re all enjoying the start of the Autumn season as much as I am!

xx

-C

 

AUTUMN 2013

It’s that time of year again! The time for back to school, falling leaves, awesome patterned tights paired with boots, chilly weather for scarf wearing, sweaters, but most importantly…Halloween movies galore, and PUMPKIN EVERYTHING! Clearly it is time for my favorite time of year.

And why yes, I have had multiple Pumpkin Spice Lattes since they were released a week ago 🙂

1001442_10151821695313076_881963928_nDELICIOUS. Even more delicious because this one was a surprise from one of my 8th graders right before first period. I know it’s silly, but I’m loving the fact that my students actually like me, rather than just tolerate me as the kids did during my student teaching.

ANYWAY…pumpkin! So as most of you probably know, I love everything pumpkin related this time of year, that being said. Here is a roundup of some of my favorite pumpkin recipes, and some I am excited to try! I already picked up one can of pumpkin puree, but I can see I will definitely be needing more!

Pumpkin Bread – totally a classic and a must make for every year.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Roll – definitely a win for special occasions, when you’re trying to impress someone, or just because you feel like eating a fancy roll cake (I find any of these reasons to be valid for making this delicious dessert).

Baked Pumpkin Donut Holes – if I had the time, I would make these fresh every morning and snack on them throughout the day because they are the perfect accompaniment to morning coffee/tea, the perfect small post-lunch dessert, the best afternoon pick-me-up (with coffee of course), and obviously a great dessert for ending the day. Hmm…this makes me wonder, is this worth getting up at 5:00am so I can have some to bring with me to work? Quite possibly yes. And yes, I know, I have a pumpkin problem.

Some other pumpkin recipes from around the blog world that I can’t wait to try…

Pumpkin Oat Loaf – from Young Married Chic. A breakfast bread that sounds like it would be awesome slathered in peanut butter (really, is there any other way to put peanut butter on things?) It sounds like it’s almost baked pumpkin spice oatmeal in loaf form. So basically an awesome on-the-go breakfast.

Pumpkin Gingerbread – also from Young Married Chic (it’s slightly possible that Kris actually loves pumpkin things more than I do!) But yes, this pumpkin gingerbread sounds like an amazing combo of all things autumn/winter so I can’t wait to try it – maybe for Thanksgiving as a transition to winter.

Pumpkin Spice Caramel Corn (aka Monster Mash) – and one more from Young Married Chic! This caramel corn basically sounds like Halloween in a bag and therefore I think it’s awesome. Definitely will be contemplating bringing bags of this to school for my kiddos during Halloween. Or you know, just making for me to eat every day during the month of October. Don’t judge.

Pumpkin Cake Pops – from YumSugar. Pretty sure the title speaks for itself. Pumpkin + Cake Pops. Clearly no additional words are needed.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls – from Smitten Kitchen. I’m not sure why I’ve never made these before. I pinned the recipe a while back and just found it but I can’t wait to make them! I mean come on, pumpkin. cinnamon. rolls. Yeasty, doughy, sweet deliciousness with the magic that is pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice. PLUS A CREAM CHEESE GLAZE. Yes, these must be made asap this weekend.

Pumpkin Spice Latte Pancakes – from HealthyFoodforLiving. Pumpkin Spice Latte Pancakes? The question is not why, but rather why not?!

I can’t wait to get started making some of my go-to pumpkin favorites and trying out some of these other recipes!

What are your favorite pumpkin recipes?

Happy Start of Autumn!

xx

-C

 

A Cup of Tea & A Teatime Treat

I absolutely love tea and tea time treats. So with Mother’s Day right around the corner, which is clearly the perfect time for a tea party, this seems like a wonderful time to share one of my favorite tea time treats. Scottish Caramel Shortbread. It’s a buttery, melt in your mouth treat, with just a touch of sweetness from the gooey caramel which sits on top. I would pair this treat with a good cup of Scottish Breakfast or Irish Breakfast tea (with just a pinch of sugar and a splash of cream). This recipe actually comes directly from a Scottish Recipes cookbook my mom and I picked up whilst in Scotland a while back (super touristy factor – we bought it at some castle we were touring lol). It has all kinds of great recipes for traditional Scottish foods, like haggis. Yum. Okay not really, but there are a lot of other good recipes.

Anyway, I believe this Mother’s Day calls for a fancy tea time. Complete with delicious tea (see above), tea time treats such as the one below, & of course, a Downton Abbey marathon 🙂

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Buttery, melt in your mouth, delicious goodness.

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I adjusted the recipe a little bit and also eliminated the chocolate topping which is typically part of the standard for Scottish Caramel Shortbread (which is also called Millionaire’s Shortbread and can also be referred to as a Twix Bar – for that recipe, see here). I kind of feel like for this specific caramel recipe, the chocolate would have been overwhelming since the star here is really the butter flavor.

I should also note that this was probably the easiest shortbread/caramel concoction I’ve ever made.

Scottish Caramel Shortbread

Adapted from Traditional Scottish Recipes Cookbook

Shortbread

2 cups All Purpose Flour
1.5 sticks Butter, softened (I used salted)
3/4 cup Granulated Sugar (aka white sugar)

Caramel

1 can Condensed Milk (standard can is 14oz)
1/2 cup Brown Sugar (I prefer dark brown sugar)
1/2 stick Butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 9×13 glass baking dish with parchment paper.

For the shortbread: In a bowl, combine the flour and butter until you have a breadcrumb-like consistency. Add the sugar. Mix until combined. Pour this mixture into your prepared pan. Press evenly and firmly throughout the pan. It will be very much like breadcrumbs that just have a little moisture to them. Bake for approximately 35 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool.

For the caramel: Pour the condensed milk into a medium sized pot, add the butter and brown sugar. Heat on the stove over medium high heat. Stirring constantly (so it does not stick) to dissolve the brown sugar and melt the butter. Stir until it begins to simmer. Continue stirring until the mixture thickens (about ten minutes or so). Pour the caramel over your cooled shortbread base.

Place the whole thing in the fridge or freezer to set the caramel. Once everything has cooled, you will have a gooey, buttery, delicious treat. Cut into squares to serve.

Optional: Sprinkle sea salt on top of the caramel.

More Mother’s Day recipes to follow! What are your Mother’s Day plans?

xx

-C

 

Cookies Solve Everything

 

 

Sometimes you have those days where it seems like life is out to get you and everything is just incredibly overwhelming. Those days happen to us all, I know. The other day my youngest sister was experiencing this. So what do I do to help? Make a batch of cookies. Because just as the process of making the cookies is therapeutic, so is eating them. So on my lunch break from work, I rushed home and made the quickest batch of cookies I’ve ever made (25 minutes total including prep time, baking time, & delivery). Using the handful of milk chocolate chips I had left, a handful of peanut butter chips I had left, and a scoop of sweetened coconut flakes, I made “cheer up, life is actually great” cookies. And they did the trick. It’s true what they say, there’s nothing a batch of homemade cookies can’t fix :] So the next time you’re having a tough day or you know someone having a bad day, come back to this recipe and make yourself a batch of these chewy delights. I swear a smile will come to anyone who eats these.

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Buttery & melt in your mouth.IMAG0345

Golden deliciousness. (I feel like that’s the name of an apple, or did I make that up?)

IMAG0347Melty milk chocolate-y goodness. Guaranteed to cheer up any cloudy day!

Chocolate Chip, Coconut, & Peanut Butter Chip Cookies
(or as I now affectionately call them, Cheer Up Cookies)

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 sticks butter (softened)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1 cup peanut butter chips (I really used somewhere between 3/4 cup and 1 cup because that’s what I had on hand, but upping it to 1 cup is certainly not going to hurt)
3/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut flakes

Preheat your oven to 375°F. Cream the butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla extract in a large mixer bowl. Add eggs, one at a time.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. Gradually beat in the flour mixture into the bowl with your wet ingredients. Stir in milk chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, coconut flakes. Mix until well combined.

On your cookie sheet/baking sheet, drop rounds of the cookie dough. I form small balls of dough with my hands, but you can also use a teaspoon to do this.

Bake for 8 – 11 minutes, or until the edges are just about golden brown, and the cookies are “set”. Meaning they do not wiggle wobble when you’re moving the cookie sheet. Allow to cool for a few minutes before removing from cookie sheet, otherwise your cookies will still be too hot and may break as you remove them.

Place on a cookie rack to cool (and if you’re like me, you will also burn your tongue at this point as you insist on eating one that still piping hot from the oven – but we all know it’s worth it lol).

Chocolate chip cookies are always a great cheer up gift, but the surprising combo of milk chocolate, peanut butter, and coconut makes for an intriguing “my mouth can’t help but smile at this candy-like” combo.

On a different note, is everyone ready for St. Patrick’s Day? CORNED BEEF AND CABBAGE! Ahhh I’m so excited. I have a slightly unhealthy love for corned beef and all its fatty goodness. Sigh, cannot wait. What are your plans for St. Patty’s Day?

xx

-C

Hello & Happy 1st Day of March!

Oh hey there! It’s been a while. No, I haven’t forgotten about you or about sharing delicious treats. But sometimes life happens. Sometimes you get sick for three weeks straight and refuse to do anything except sleep. Not that I was a pill to deal with these last few weeks or anything (Also, my sympathies to anyone who had this weird flu/cold thing going around the last month – it was terrible and I’m still fighting it). Anyway, the point of the matter is that I’m back, at least for today.

So while I was sick, I decided that I had to have peanut butter caramel corn. Why did I have to have that? Who knows. But I was insistent that I was going to make some and eat it while I watched Christopher’s Wheeldon’s Alice in Wonderland ballet on dvd (such a fun ballet to watch!). I searched for a few recipes but didn’t really like their ingredients so I basically just modified my mom’s regular caramel corn recipe.

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Peanut butter. Caramel. Popcorn. The best sweet salty snack.

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I may or may not have eaten this whole bowl. No, really, I swear I didn’t.

IMAG0317Okay fine. Maybe I did eat 3/4 of the bowl of this candy coated snack. It was just so good!

I know this seems more like an autumn time snack, but I think it’s delicious for whenever.

Peanut Butter Caramel Popcorn

Modified from my mother’s recipe (I don’t have exact measurements on any of this btw, it’s really more a lot of eyeballing than anything else)

On the popcorn, you can make some microwavable popcorn, then set it aside and make the caramel. Or you can airpop some kernels, or pop them in a large soup pot or dutch oven, or whatever you have. The choice is your’s on that. But if you’re popping your own, don’t forget a quick sprinkling of salt.

Now onto the caramel.

2/3 cup light corn syrup
3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
4 tablespoons butter (or 1/2 a stick)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup peanut butter, chunky

In a large pot (large enough to hold all of your popcorn), combine the sugar, corn syrup, butter, and vanilla extract. Stir and bring to a boil. (Keep a close eye on this, you don’t want your sugar burning. Also take care not to burn yourself. Hot sugar is not the business.) Cook for 3 – 5 minutes, or until the sugar begins to caramelize. Remove from heat and stir in the peanut butter. Pour your prepared popcorn into the pot, using a rubber spatula, stir to coat. Carefully stir until all of the popcorn is coated.

Allow to cool so that the candy coating will harden. (I have also seen recipes where you bake the popcorn on a baking sheet at 250 degrees F for about an hour – but I was too impatient for this, so I just let it harden for a few minutes then ate it. Do you have the patience to wait an hour for popcorn?? Seriously, who does that?)

Serve alongside a fun movie!

Also, since we’re talking fun things to have with movies. I’ve discovered my new favorite way to drink champagne. (What? You don’t drink champagne with movies? I see no reason as to why not.) 
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Frozen Berries. I saw this idea on Pinterest over a year ago and was like oh yea, that’s a good idea, I should do that. And then I just never did. But the other day my sister was given a bottle of champagne. So what do we do? Go buy precut frozen strawberries and put on episodes of Once Upon A Time. Yea, I’m still obsessing over that show. It’s so good! You should watch it.
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Strawberries fizzle and break apart in the champagne, giving you these nice little pieces of sweetness every now and then.

Simple Champagne Cocktail

1 bottle chilled champagne
1 bag frozen berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, etc..)

In a champagne flute, place 4 – 5 small berries. Tilt the flute and pour champagne at an angle, taking care to not overflow the glass as the champagne will fizzle when it meets the berries.

If you wanted to be extra fancy, you could place all of the berries on a fancy skewer as seen here.

(Via Pinterest)

You could also be super fancy like Kris of Young Married Chic and rim your glasses in edible star glitter, as seen here.


(Via Young Married Chic)

Simple simple. Easy things for a movie party? Why yes, I think so. All that is missing is some gourmet homemade pizza or nachos, and some awesome movies. Oh the decisions. Audrey Hepburn night? Alfred Hitchcock night? Watching The Help & making a homemade chocolate pie to serve while watching the movie? Lol. I amuse myself. But yes, movie night with delicious easy treats. It should happen sooner rather than later, don’t you think?

Also, I can’t believe it’s already here but…Happy 1st Day of March! The start of the year flew by. But I’m excited as it’s time to look forward to springtime weather, Pi Day (PIE! 3/14!), St. Patrick’s Day, Easter & Easter dinner & Easter egg hunts!, and the start of bbq-ing season.

Happy Unofficial Start of Spring!

xx

-C

 

Monte Cristo Wrap

Ok guys, I have to tell you, sometimes I eat weird things. Yesterday I had this idea that I wanted to make a turkey wrap for lunch, and for some reason I decided that I wanted to put strawberry preserves in it. I know what you’re thinking – “strawberry? Really?” It’s really not that weird though, is it? It’s kind of like when I make leftover Thanksgiving wraps with turkey, cream cheese, stuffing, mustard, and cranberry sauce. Cranberry, strawberry, they’re pretty similar right? …yea okay…strawberry is not the same as cranberry at all. I know. But this combo just sounded so good. Savory and sweet.

It occurred to me a few hours later that this is actually pretty similar to a Monte Cristo Sandwich, which is served with powdered sugar and a side of jelly or preserves. Except this doesn’t involve French Toast or being fried with butter. So I guess I would consider this a “healthier” version of a Monte Cristo. Now don’t get me wrong, this still has cream cheese and cheese in it, so as far as truly being healthy, I doubt it falls in that category. But compared to a regular Monte Cristo, yes I would say it’s pretty healthy. Or maybe I’m just deluding myself. Who knows? All I know is I enjoyed this as a quick, easy, and filling lunch.

IMAG0308Layers of flavor.

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Ready to be wrapped and taken with me to work. In the corner is the BEST dijon mustard ever btw.

Monte Cristo Wrap

1 or 2 flour tortillas or whole wheat wraps (depending if you want one or two)
Cream Cheese
2 slices of Swiss or Gouda Cheese
Turkey lunch meat (or ham if you wish)
Dijon Mustard (I highly recommend Maille – usually available at Safeway)
Strawberry Preserves

Lay out your tortillas or wrap. Spread cream cheese across entire surface. Spread a layer of mustard on top of the cream cheese. Layer your slices of cheese in a vertical column. I like to tear the cheese into smaller strips to fit into a straight line. Dollop little spoons of the strawberry preserves (more or less, depending on what you want). Layer a few slices of turkey meat on top of that, again in a vertical column. Roll. And then either wrap up to take with you on the go or eat right there. (Note: these should be kept refrigerated due to the cream cheese, cheese, and turkey).

It’s not that weird, I swear! Try it before you knock it. Do you have any weird flavor combos that you enjoy? Tell me I’m not alone on this!

Cheers to the start of a productive week!

xx

-C