Clean Eating Sweet Potato Butter Recipe

On a rainy Saturday afternoon, this past weekend, I got the itch to throw something in the crock pot.  Maybe a meal, maybe a treat, it didn’t matter what.  Something about the fragrances coming from a slow cooker, when you don’t feel like doing anything or going anywhere are just so comforting to me.  So here’s a recipe that I found online that I decided to give a try: Clean Eating Sweet Potato Butter.

I have had sweet potato butter before.  I have had apple butter, pumpkin butter and peach butter but this was my first time making anything other than apple butter at home before.

This recipe is rather simple & honestly if I could do it over again (which I probably will when I make another batch) I would not cook it as long.  I cooked it for the directed amount of time and thought just by looking at it that the sweet potatoes were not cooked long enough, but they were.  Mistake #1 but a lesson learned.

I started with sweet potatoes, and added some molasses, apple cider, cinnamon spice, a pinch of salt, bourbon vanilla extract and fresh grated orange zest.  I didn’t see the need for the orange zest and will omit that in the future.

I sprayed the bottom of my crock pot with non-stick pan spray and then lined it with a crock pot liner.  Adding 3 cups of chopped sweet potato.  I removed any dark or brown spots that might have spoilage.

Then I added the remainder of my ingredients, the molasses, the cider, the salt etc.  I almost never make something like this without the addition of teaspoon or two of vanilla extract.

I did cook my sweet potatoes for too long.  The instructions said to cook them in the slow cooker on low for 8 hours, but I cooked them for ten.

I felt that this overcooked the sweet potatoes bit but the flavor was still there.

So what are you making in the slow cooker this fall season?

Clean Eating Sweet Potato Butter

Original AuthorThe Gracious Pantry

This version made my: Things She Makes

Ingredients
  • 3 cups peeled sweet potatoes, cubed
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 1 tbsp. molasses
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  1. Spray the bottom of your slow cooker with non-stick spray.

  2. Cover slow cooker with cooker line.

  3. Add all ingredients to the pot, and set on low temperature setting for 8 hours.

  4. Turn off crock pot and remove liner and contents.  Allow to cool to room temperature.

  5. Puree and blend with hand mixer.  Once mixture is completely cool at the air tight canning jar or mason jar.  Refrigerate.  Serve over toast or a homemade buttered-biscuit to enjoy.

 

Homemade {Skinny} Pumpkin Spice Latte

“Well, hello, flavors of fall…..”

This time of year, a little bit of fall has been sprinkled into everything.. The leaves are changing, the air is crisp, pumpkin patches await, and the flavors of fall await, from breads, cookies & hot morning (or afternoon) drinks.  I love a good pumpkin spice latte.  So I figured, why not try my hand at making my own at home and I did.  And it turned out DELICIOUS!  And now I want to share it with YOU!

Please note: This recipe was for one serving of latte but you can double or triple it to make as many servings as you would like. 🙂

It starts out with a little bit of almond milk.   We usually keep almond milk on hand, and it’s one of my main go-to’s as an alternative for regular milk, calorie wise.  So to make this a “skinny” latte (meaning less calories) I thought that it would be great.

Then I added just a teaspoon of pure vanilla extract.

If you mean business with your vanilla then you will:

(1) Use pure and not imitation extract and

(2) You might even use something like this, that I found at Trader Joes.  I like it because the flavor is bold and you can taste the difference when added to your recipes.

A dash of nutmeg.

We can’t have a fall-themed warm & cozy treat without nutmeg.  You just can’t..

One tablespoon of canned pumpkin puree.  This is two 1/2 tablespoons, in the picture below.

And 1/8 cup of sugar.  You can adjust the amount or type of sugar if you’d like.  Agave, maple, honey, brown sugar, or sugar in the raw also sound like great options.

And stir, with a whisk.  You want your pumpkin to be completely blended in to your milk mixture.  Remember, this is a latte, and a latte usually means a steamed milk.  So we’re going to cook this pumpkin in while it’s steeping with the milk.  So that we have a nice, smooth, well-blended pumpkin spiced latte.

Once it’s fully blended we will turn on the heat.  You’ll want to continue the stir this over medium high heat in your saucepan for about 7 minutes.

Once that’s done, add it to your favorite mug, top with whipped cream and some cute sprinkles and you’re good to go.

 

Now to make sure that this treat, truly was “skinny”, I used this fat-free whipped cream:

So what yummy treats are you loving this fall?  Are you going to try to make any at home?

homemade {skinny} pumpkin spice latte

(Makes 1 serving)

3/4 cup of almond milk

1/2 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract

a pinch of nutmeg or pumpkin pie spice

1 tablespoon of pumpkin puree

1/8 cup of sugar (substitute amount or type of sweetener for your liking)

Directions

In a small saucepan, add almond milk, vanilla, nutmeg, pumpkin, sugar and stir.  Stir with a whisk until all of your ingredients are fully blended and there are no visible clumps of pumpkin puree left.

Over medium high heat, continue to stir for 5-7 minutes until the mixture has come to a light boil and starts to steam.  Remove from heat and pour into a mug of your choice.  Top with whipped cream & garnish with your favorite seasonal sprinkles.  Enjoy!

 

 

Pumpkin Spice Glazed Donuts

It’s time to make the donuts! 

I’ve been itching at the chance to make some delicious baked homemade donuts this fall.  It’s been a while since I’ve made any donuts & since we’re still in the middle of “pumpkin spice everything” I thought, what better type of homemade donuts to make then, pumpkin spice donuts?!

Who can resist anything pumpkin during fall, right?

* This post may contain affiliate links.  See side bar for full disclosure. *

In a large mixing bowl, I combined all of my dry ingredients (flour, sugar, salt, baking powder & pumpkin pie spice) until completely smooth.

Then I added all of my wet ingredients (the eggs, the oil, & the vanilla) along with pumpkin.

 

I mixed until completely smooth & then set it aside and got my donut baking pan ready.

 

After I sprayed my donut pan with a generous dose of non-stick pan spray, I filled each section 3/4 of the way with my pumpkin batter.  Here is the pan that I used.

A gave them a gently shake and tap on the counter to even them out and then baked them in a 350 degree oven for 15-18 minutes.

Part-way through (at about 12 mins) I couldn’t resist, I had to peak just to make sure that they were coming along okay.

After 18 minutes I removed them from the oven and let them set for about 6 to 10 minutes while I made the dipping glaze.

(I set them out on my baking rack after ten minutes, to allow them to cool & to get them ready for the glaze).

I melted 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter, 1/2 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice, 1/4 cup of heavy cream, and 2 cups of powdered sugar & whisked until smooth.

One at a time, I dipped them in the glaze, and some I drizzled over.

I added a mix of toppings, from top left – plain pumpkin spice glaze, glaze and white sprinkles, glaze with half gold sugar/ half clear crystal sugar.  Bottom left: mini chocolate chip, glaze striped, and pumpkin spice glaze pecan.

This by far, is my favorite thing that I have made all fall!

pumpkin spice glazed donuts

Dry Ingredients
1 3/4 cup + two tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons of salts
1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 1/2 cups of granulated sugar

Wet Ingredients
3 large eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin (almost all of one 12 oz. can)
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Glaze
3 tablespoons of butter, melted
1 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice
1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream
1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar

directions

In a large bowl, mix all of your dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking powder, sugar and pumpkin pie spice) until fully combined.  Add in the egg, oil, and canned pumpkin.  Stir until fully blended.  Set aside.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray donut pan with non-stick cooking spray.  Fill cavities 3/4 of the way with pumpkin batter.  Bake for 15-18 minutes.  Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes and then remove from pan.  Set on a baking rack to cool.  Place parchment paper underneath the baking rack to prepare for glazing and toppings.

To make the glaze:

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter until boiling.  Add the pumpkin pie spice.  Remove from heat.  Wait 2-3 minutes and then add the heavy whipping cream, stirring constantly.  Allow to cool 5 minutes, then add the powdered sugar, stirring constantly.  When the top of the glaze is cool to the touch, begin to dip or drizzle over donuts.  Enjoy!

 

 

Childhood Favorite: Swirled Peanut Butter & Jelly

I came across this at the grocery store the other day and it totally brought back memories: one container, beautifully striped peanut butter and jelly!

I hesitated at first as I know that my kids are not allowed to have this at school, but they can still have it at home, at least.  Right?  Well, I caved in and decided to get it.  I used to love when my mom would pick this out at the store.  As a kid, what can be better than your two favorite {lunch} things all in one.  We used to get the Smucker’s brand, but let me tell ya, this one will do.

I recently had a craving for a little toast & peanut butter and jelly and this jar fit the bill.  It immediately brought me back to my childhood days…..

Striped pb & j, or better yet to fluffer-nutters…

What’s one thing that when you eat it, you can’t help but think about being a kid again? 

 

Six {6} Back-to-School Teacher Gifts…..that you’ll LOVE

“Meet Your Teacher” Night is coming up and so is the beginning of a new school year.  You don’t want your student going back to school to start the new year without a little something for the teacher, or at least I don’t.

Here is a list of six of the top back-to-school teacher gifts that I’ve found & loved.  I hope that you will love them to.  Let’s jump in!

*This post contains affiliate links.  See side-bar for full-disclosure.*

1. Flips

Nothing says that I am excited about starting a new school year AND that I’m happy that you’re my teacher like this cute little bag of chocolate covered pretzels (the white ones are my favorite) & printable tag that reads, “I’m doing FLIPS that you’re my teacher!”  Click here for free printable.

2. “Mark my words” Sharpie Gift

“Mark my words, it’s going to be a great year!”  With just a few brand new colorful sharpie markers,

* Printable (link below)

* Baker’s Twine

* Double-sided tape or hot glue

You have yourself a wonderful & cute little gift.  Click here for printable.

3. Squeaky Clean Wipes

Back-to-school can also mean “back-to-germs” if students and teachers are not adamant about wiping & re-wiping surfaces, washing hands, using hand sanitizer, and did I say re-wiping shared items.  An extra container of distinfectant wipes would be welcome in any classroom.

4. The Crayon Wreath

This crayon wreath is both cute & creative and also something that your child’s teacher could display in his/her classroom or door.  With just a few boxes of crayons, chalkboard background, add-ons & your all set.

See full post here. 

5. The Future is Sharp

I don’t think that a teacher could have too many good colorful brand-new sharpie markers.  I love the phrase on this tag.  With a package of sharpie markers & this printable you are all set!  This is just another fun way to add to your child’s teacher’s supply stash and hand them a fun gift at the same time.

6. School Supply Cake

I saved the biggest for the last.  The biggest is not necessarily the best, but if you have the supplies, the skill, the courage & the time, you may want to try and tackle this monster of a gift!  Either back-to-school, end of year or Christmas, I think that this school supply cake would likely be a dream come true!  This video shows a similar version of it and actually had the easiest to follow instructions.

So, what are you going to make for your child’s teacher this year?  Are you going to have them bring something to their “Meet Your Teacher” event or walk something in on the first day of school?  I’m excited to see what you come up with. 🙂

Chemeeka 

Five {5} Things That You’ll Need for Back-to-School This Year

The close to the summer is almost here.  Kids in some parts of the country have already started back to school.  We still have one more week before we meet the teachers, and then just a handful of days following that when the first day of school will begin.

I have put together a list of essentials to make sure that you have everything that you need for the big day.

1. Back packs

Back packs are a must!  Whether you’re going with plain or patterned, gold or glitter (make sure that it’s not against your school’s policies), Justice or Pottery Barn – every child will need a back pack.  There are some places, like Pottery Barn that actually offer back packs in a variety of sizes, based on ages & grade level.  Check with what your school or teacher recommends and then go and get the back pack that is right for you!

2. Lunch boxes

Every child wants a nice lunch box.  If possible, I say to personalize it.  There are lots of places (like Etsy or monogram shops) that will personalize lunch bags for you.   I’m not so keen on having a name on the outside of a backpack, but lunch boxes in my opinion are a must, if you can.  Depending on where you get your box from; many shops on Etsy will offer personalization of the bag when you purchase.  If you walk inside to a brick & mortar facility, it will all depend on what they offer.  Some require that you buy the item from them before they’ll personalize.  Other’s will charge an additional fee if you bring in an item from the outside.  Go with what will work best, and get your child’s lunch box, with their name or initials on it.

3. Lunch containers

There are a lot of different types of lunch containers out there.  Everything from individual & separatable compartments, to bento-style boxes, to ones that just fit a sandwich and no more.

Go with a lunch container that is dishwasher safe, that can be used every day (get more than one for a back-up just in case something happens to the one you have), and one that fits into the lunch bag that you picked out.  You can have the lunch container personalized with waterproof vinyl or with the next item on this list.

4. Kid Labels

Labels, labels, labels.  I could only imagine the frustration that faculty and teachers go through when they’re trying to figure out, “Who in the world, this xyz belongs to…?!”  In the past, we’ve used sharpie markers but this year, we are all about the labels.  What we cannot use sharpie marker on, I have found some wonderful multi-surface & waterproof labels to label all of our kids items with.  One of these days I will break into the world of diy-printable vinyl.   Until then, I’ll be ordering them pre-designed by the experts!

5. {Printed} First Day of School Signs

Are you that mom that wakes up, gets her child up for school, gets them dressed, gives them a good breakfast, a kiss and a hug and then sends them on their way to school.  Only to find out later, after logging in to social media, that everyone else in the cyber-world has a picture of their child smiling with a handy-dandy ready to go “First Day of School” sign?

Now, it’s not that you need to have that sign so that you can be like everyone else.  But if you would like to be able to look back, even if for your knowing or even a picture to send to family or place in a scrapbook, you’ll want to have that sign printed possibly even the day or week before.  Just go ahead and print your’s off now.  There are a ton of options out there from printed to physical hand-held chalk-boards.

You can do this.

Just don’t wait until the last minute….

Chemeeka 

 

4th of July Red {Mint} Blue Punch

This 4th of July, I’ve come up with something fresh delicious & practically takes no time to make for your 4th July gatherings.  It’s my Red, {Mint} & Blue 4th of July punch.

 

 

Start with 2 cups of boiled water in a pourable, heat safe container.

Add one teaspoon of Wilton Royal Blue gel food coloring.  Add it to the hot water and stir to let it dissolve & cool to room temperature.

 

 

 

 

 

Next, you’ll need one of these star ice cube trays that I found for less than $1.50 at Walmart or you could also use a standard ice tray.  In the end, it’s the same effect.  The blue ice lends the blue color to the punch whether you use stars or not.  (I thought that the stars were cute).

 

Pour the cooled blue water carefully into the ice tray as best you can.  You will only need one batch of ice cubes.

In a large half gallon water pitcher, squeeze the juice of 4 limes & add two cups of granulated sugar.

Stir to dissolve the lime juice and sugar & fill the pitcher 3/4 of the way full with filtered water.

Add in your blue ice cubes and slices of fresh strawberries.

Here’s a little tip: To keep my strawberry slices from turning to mush in my punch, I sliced them up the night before and put them in the freezer until I was ready for them.

Add in a handful of fresh mint leaves & your done!

 

 

So what are you bringing to the 4th of July picnic this year?

The Perfect Pie Crust Recipe

A homemade pie crust – one that is made from scratch, and by you (not your mother, or your grandmother, your husband, one of your kids, your neighbor or your aunt) can seem like a daunting task.  It’s certainly easier (but far less rewarding) to just buy one from the store.

I have finally found a recipe that I can follow, that’s not crushed graham cracker crumbs or cookies of some sort.  I mean, a real McCoy, 100% legit, Martha-Stewart-I-see- you, type of a pie crust.  Finally, this is it!

My grandmother had shared her pie crust-making secrets with me years ago.  Truth be known- I never bothered to follow her specific instructions until now.

“Meeka,” she’d say, “You’ve got to make sure that your butter is cold, and the other ingredients are room temperature (like your flour, sugar, etc.)” and “You have to be sure and use ice water.”

Ice water.

Okay, that sounds simple enough.  This should be easy to follow.  Right?  Ice water seems easy enough to come by.   Unless, you choose to translate the term, “ice water” into “lukewarm water” or at best, “cold water straight out of the tap.”  It should produce the same results, right?  Not.

Even with the clearest of instructions, I have never once followed her recipe to a “T”.   Consequently, my pie crusts have never turned out just right.  They have never been anything that I could be proud of.  I have always wanted a 100% homemade pie from start to finish.  And now, I have finally, finally found the crust recipe, that I have been looking for!

Homemade Pie Crust Recipe

(This recipe makes one pie crust)

1 1/4 all-purpose flour

1/2 cup of cold butter (cut into cubes)

1/2 teaspoon of sugar

1/4 teaspoon of salt

1/4 of ice water

Directions:

Starting with very cold butter, cut the butter into cubes.

In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients and add in all of the cubed butter, and begin to blend with a pastry blender, until crumbly.

Add ice water, one tablespoon at a time.  *Note: This should be ice water, and not room temperature water, nor the coldest water that you can manage to get from the tap.

Add ice water, one tablespoon at a time, and continue to mix with the pastry blender gently.  Add enough water until the mixture begins to form into a dough.

 

Once the dough begins to stick to the pastry blender, scrape all of it off and back into the bowl, with a fork and then scoop everything into a gallon size ziplock bag.   This is my little trick to keep my hands clean while having full control over kneading the dough.  Additionally, I don’t mind the kids helping me to make the dough, nor do I have to worry about the cleanliness of their hands when they’re kneading the dough on the outside of the bag.  #momwin #bakerwin

Knead the dough for about 5 minutes and then flatten into a disc.

Firm up the edges, for a perfectly round disc-should you prefer.  And then refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.

I doubled the recipe and made two pie crusts, hence why I had extra flour & butter when I began to mix with my pastry mixer.

After 2 hours, remove the dough from plastic and place it on a floured surface, flour the top of the disc, and begin to roll out with your rolling pin.

If you’re fancy enough, roll the flattened dough up around your rolling pin and then unroll it on to your pie plate.  (I did not do that with this one, but did it with my top crust).

Crimp around the edges of the pie crust using about a finger spacing in between.

Line the unbaked pie shell with aluminum foil and then fill with dry uncooked beans.  This will help your pie shell not to fill with air bubbles while it bakes.

Bake on 350 degrees for 15 minutes.

Remove from the oven and your ready to go.  See?  Now that wasn’t so bad after all.

Will you try this recipe?  Maybe even get it under your belt before the holidays?  I want to hear from you.  Drop me a comment below or email me at: thingsshemakes@gmail.com

 

Six fun gift ideas for Dad this Father’s Day!

* This post contains affiliate links.  See full disclosure in side bar. *

This year, I am super-excited about Father’s Day.  Why?  Because I have a handful of concrete and fun ideas (both handmade & store-bought), and enough time for me to execute them in.  #happy

The following are a collection of heartwarming, hand-made & store bought gifts for dad.

1. Crayon-framed hand print craft

Crayon-framed hand print craft by Involvery

The hand printed gifts, seem like the most insignificant gift at the time and then become the most treasured as the years go by.  I often think, maybe I should send something more, to the grandparents & relatives when I send them hand print projects, but they actually love them.

You’re capturing a little piece of child at the moment that will one day pass by, as they grow.

2. Super-Dad Bars

Super Dad Father’s Day Gift by I heart Crafty Things

I love this!  Now granted, you will need a few flat or Hershey’s chocolate candy bars of your choice, some markers and scrapbook paper but just imagine the look on dad’s face when he sees these?

I think that he’s going to feel like a true super hero.

 

3. “One-In-A-Melon” Watermelon Father’s Day card

Father’s Day Watermelon Card by Frugal Mom-eh

This card has a little bit of whimsy, a little bit of fun and a LOT of love.  Frugal Mom-eh, takes you step-by-step, supplies you with a watermelon template & a supply list for this project.  For a full tutorial on how to make this card, click here.

4. Superhero Dad Card

We can’t get enough of our superhero themes for Dad.  Right?  Well, when it comes to Father’s Day (or Mother’s Day for that matter), I don’t think that you can lay on your appreciation for their “super powers” too thick.

Print at a large (4-5 inches across) Superman logo on to card stock and then choose two or three of your favorite Dad-inspired card stock designs from your local craft store, some hot glue & your buttons and I think that we have ourselves a hero of a card!

5. Daddy’s Helpers Outdoor Work-gloves

Grab  yourself a pair of outdoor work gloves, a black Sharpie marker, a few bottles of craft paint (depending on how many you’ll need) and prep Daddy’s gloves just in time for the big day.  Be sure and allow yourself enough time between hand prints for the paint to dry.  (*So, note to self: The morning of is not going to work for this one –:).  Dad is sure to treasure this gift for years to come.

6. Photo gifts or photo books

Photo book  by Luhvee

A good friend of mine told me that she creates a photo book for her husband every year and gives it to him on Father’s Day.  Her book captures little memories and moments from the year with a special emphasis on moments with Dad.  I love the idea of this & know that there are several companies that you could choose to go through.  There’s Shutterfly, Chatbooks, Mixbook, Persnickety Prints, Nation’s Photo Lab and so many more.

I have rounded up a post of three companies with the most affordable pricing to get your photo gift for dad done on time and at a great price.

See the full post here.

I hope that you have some fun ideas in place for Father’s Day.